My Mother My Life
Angela McCabe

Their feet are guns,
their eyes are bullets in my lungs.
 From  Remember Spain   by Robert Galvin.


Sunday morning darkens. The phone rings. They threaten again,
say they’ll throw my body into The Black Water. My bones stiffen, heart freezes.

I have nine lives. I am a walking miracle. Will the lioness save me?

Pressured to Mass by my father’s side, bribed by a petite fit new gabardine coat
epaulettes and belt.

Oh, come home fearless woman before dangerous barrels open fire
and you find my flesh torn in pools of blood.

I don’t want to be buried, I forgot to tell you. Cremated. Make a bed of straw,
a gurney of ash wood, set it alight. Push this funeral pyre on to Lough Neagh.

I will watch the Antrim hills step off into whiteness, and will follow.


A Vauxhall from Portadown turns on the street, our Nissan on its tail.
Navy coated woman dismounts, stands by the driver’s door, stands and stands again.

Windows roll down, my father resolute by the passenger side A gun points out.
She presses her chest against it. Positions held for an eternity.

Slowly the Vauxhall reverses its’ cowardly wheels along the side of the house.
My heart closes and opens.

I hear her voice: ‘No one will touch a hair on your head, daughter so long as there’s breath in my body.’ Stops my trembling. Mother makes tea.

I bury myself in her shatterproof coat.