“Eat Up” and other poems by Fiadha McLysaght

Eat Up

At home
I bury my face in the crease of your elbow
You cover my mouth as though quenching a flame
In return, my fingernails incise the back of your hand as a gift to you
coupled with a promise:
I would never do that on purpose
I cannot understand why you are not thankful
I would be so grateful for that promise,
so grateful someone had etched themselves into me
In the morning we sever ourselves on the rim of the tin can that
encloses our breakfast
haphazardly pried open to devour its kernel
I blot my bleeding lip against my shoulder
and leave a trail of watercolor stains moving down to the crease of my elbow
I reach the back of my hand and realise that should you walk in it might appear
as though I am purposefully applying hickeys to my body like a curious teenager
You beckon me into the kitchen once more
Having forced open the can
and fished out the discernible scraps of tin from the syrup
surrounding the orange fruit
I pluck a piece out and watch a smudged lipstick imprint
leave the palm of my hand
And float into the sticky liquid
Before passing the tin can back to you


I remember the soft May breeze
sweeping over the island,
and the blue horizon
dry swallowing the cherry drop sun.
and you
by campfire
slipping your fingers between mine,
irrevocable like fishhooks.
then you,
violent as nightfall,
rushing towards me like an army
two hot knives for eyes,
how you threw your fist at me like a bolt of lightning.
I remember morning, at cliffside
and you,
red-faced and teary-eyed,
and me all guileless and forgiving
how I ruffled every last hair on your holy head.
Remembering you is massaging a bruise.


Morningtime – all revelled out
Our legs are woven together, tight as teeth
cocooned in soft cotton
Sun bellows through the blinds
and I am laughing, deep warm laughs
and we are rapt, concentrating deeply
on nothing at all
I notice sleep in the corner of my eyes
and fish it out with my smallest fingernail
gentle as ever


My body is ballooning –
a plump, newborn thing
with nipples sore like bruised peaches,
and soon my hair will never have been
run through your fingers
if I keep cutting it off just right
You lit me on fire,
and I, a supernova burning
spat you out
with all of your false glow.

Joan, unflinching

I was brazen
a warrior with a vision
and eagle eyes,
my face a red flare.
They mounted me
upon a pillar
crowds as loud as thunder
encircled me like moths do a flame
I was stoic,
immobile as a statue
my eyes piercing the horizon
before gasping in
hot gas
all ablaze –
flesh bursting open,
like berries left under the midday sun
Voices rose like magma
seeping out of the soil
and then up and around me hardening
into black ash
burned twice;
and then again
ash to ash
till there was nothing left.

Eat Up and other poems are © Fiadha McLysaght


Fiadha McLysaght is a writer, researcher, and student of Politics, Sociology and Social Justice at UCD. Her work has been published or exhibited by NOT4U Collective, Nothing Substantial, TORCH Collective, Living Proof, Monstrous Regiment, the Three Fates and other zines.

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