Blue in the face – Aifric McGlinchey

My mama was like a vampire squid

who uses fine-haired filaments

to browse on marine snow,

tiny crustaceans

Breakfast lit on by long fingers

and scooped onto her tongue.

She always stood. She had no plate of her own.

I’d leave her some phytoplankton,

bite-sized, briny, crunchy.

Each morning, my arms were rivers running toward her.

Her arms were a cat’s cradle I’d have put to sea in.

When she smiled, I smiled,

then the whole house pulsed

with our skip-to-the-kitchen laughter.


One day he knocked

and she became a parcel of tendon and spewing ink,

whiplash collision. I screamed and banged my spoon.

Saw through the door a man as blue

as Picasso’s old guitarist on the wall.

Felt her voice body to my limbs.

Stared at the snow wasteland of the ceiling,

until she whirled back through the door,

heaving roomfuls of air, and lifted me.

‘He thought he could cock his ears and whisk his tail

and I’d come running.

Well, I wrung that thought right out of him.’

I gave her the full loaf of my love, stroked tendrils, crooned.

Fingers in my mouth, and every breakfast, the blue guitarist.


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