In this place there are empty shapes.
Spaces, moving. Here, there, everywhere.
Spaces moving among us, about us.
The shape of the missing,
we no longer hear, or see.
People we once knew, touched,
talked with, laughed with, cried too,
they were features of this place, this town,
they are missing now. Do we miss them?
Do we have a sense of the empty space they once filled?
Once, not so long ago, a month or so,
when I was engaged on my daily walk,
I would meet older people, some very old,
Late 80’s, early nineties…
May trees are in flower again
it was this time last year
the news came of your passing
When the May flower white in the woodland
reminds me of the poem you wrote
it was about this time we heard too
so many people were dying from Covid
I was recovering, shielded and frightened
I didn’t see anyone for nine months
living here out on the country road
on a hill surrounded by Oakwood
Shopping was brought to the door
the man always asked if I was well
he kept his distance the boxes left
Remembering that Ireland only became a Republic in 1948,
only then, when the English Governor vacated his seat,
was Ireland able to focus itself on what really mattered.
When I was a small child “going home” like all children travelling
on the Irish ferries,— cattle boats my older sister said —
we became smugglers, food wrapped under our coats.
Ireland was struggling, and we played our small part
to help our families through bitterly hard times,
for England did not entirely let go its grasping hold.
It is a lesson to be remembered as we consider
In the hospital wing
I follow signs to ACEU
two bays with welcome posters
on pale blue pastel walls
Every second seat
with red and white crosses
a hand written note explains
social distancing rules apply
Sitting on my own for a long time
I listen to nurses along the corridor
chattering in a distant office
I wait for my name to be called
An older woman is brought in
brushing past her feet touch mine
she apologises with a smile
pushed on a wheelchair and left
The nurses chatter becomes a drone
my right hand
my right hand holds the towel tenderly stroking dry
the pacemaker tucked neatly in under bulging skin
a pouch the surgeon made while I watched the film
the day before wires were pushed from my groin
through the aorta with a camera filming inside me
guided to my heart I watched its voyage on the screen
above my head — then the announcement made
all arteries and veins clear — “vena amoris”
I remember wedding rings on the heart finger
my right hand holds the black as night coffee
sticky as thick molasses…
The shirt cut off me with apologies,
the white t shirt underneath cut away too.
A meagre sacrifice to pay to save my life,
“Heart in TV” I thought they said,
Looks of disbelief as one said,
a heartbeat of two hundred and fifty seven
I listened as they talked together,
five men, and a female doctor,
in their greens and reds standing over me.
I thought I heard them say again,
“hearts in TV”,
Down their mobiles,
the thought amused me,
my heart is on TV,
but not for long this was an emergency.
She promised to pay a penny for each snail
not half expecting the bucketful
quickly brought back for her experiments
collected with a small boys enthusiasm
You could say our mother was not best pleased
to find the captives roaming in the night
leaving silver trails laced meanderings
on ceilings and bathroom walls
My sister showed me how to
stroke away cuckoo spit
with a blade of grass
to slowly delicately reveal
the bright green aphid
exposed in its lathering
spurtled white froth
she placed buttercups under my chin
to see whether the glow showed
Rob Cullen artist, writer, poet. Rob runs “Voices on the Bridge” a poetry initiative in Wales. Walks hills and mountains daily with a sheep dog at his side.