“Mná na hÉireann” and other poems by Anne Walsh Donnelly

Mná na hÉireann

To die not having known the frenzy
of making love with a woman
is to live without ever jumping
over the bar of your crib.

How could you not want
to watch a woman fling her underwear
on your bedroom floor
present you with soft skin

for your nails and teeth
to score like blades on dough.
How could you not want
to feel your edges

slip into her hollows, like a spoon
folding flour into cake batter.
How could you not want
to hear her whimper,

crescendo to a jungle roar
while your fingers move inside her.
How could you not want
a denouement to your play,

when secret stories leak onto ivory sheets
then tease tongues and start the sequel.
How could you not want
to drag a woman to bed

at seven on a Saturday evening
rise at two on Sunday afternoon,
and smelling like a marathon runner,

race outside to tackle
weedy flower beds
gleeful that soil will not rest
in your clipped fingernails.


First published in Animal Heart Press, 2019, Editor Amanda McLeod

Being in love at fifty

plucks me from death row,
Hands expunge
the curdled cream & bitter fruit
from my body. Medley of skin & bones
sink into a bowl of Eton Mess.

Being in love at fifty
makes me wonder if Eros will crumble
like Wensleydale cheese
or taste like Blue Stilton, after a year or two,
or if it can be transformed
into the perfect soufflé.

Being in love at fifty
makes me cry, my daughter’s image
of me, creases, feels like
she’s lost Santa all over again
has to make room for someone else
to sit beside her in my heart.

Being in love at fifty
makes me grin, my shopping bag
contains a birthday card
& polyester shirt for my daughter
to give to her father. Lying on top,
a cerise lace bra for my lover.

First published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Times, 2018, Editor Ciaran Carty

My Menopausal Womb

Hairdresser empties tubes
into a black bowl, stirs a mixture
of what looks like day-old blood.
366, he calls the dye.

He pastes my greying hair,
doesn’t take long to cover.
Thirty minutes of flicking through Image,
Hello and Good Housekeeping
and I’m scarlet again.

Gynecologist puts my feet in steel stirrups
tells me to spread my legs
covers his hands with latex gloves
grabs a speculum
tells me to cough and inserts.

When he withdraws I know
what he has to say before he
opens his mouth. And I wish
there was a colour like 366
that would turn my shrunken
womb, scarlet again.

First published in Spontaneity, 2019, Editor Ruth McKee

The Day My Vagina Spoke To Me

After Martina Evans

Don’t you dare, write a poem about this conversation,
said my vagina to me, as I toweled myself dry.

You’ve enough written about sex, vulvas,
and unsatisfying penises. Get over it.
Write something different, use the Irish Sea,
Croagh Patrick or Clew Bay as your muse.
Everybody loves poems about landscapes.

I’m sick and tired of seeing my personal details
all over the web. Who wants to read about a menopausal
vagina or any other type of vagina?
Nothing glamourous about what’s happening to me.
If you paid a bit more attention you’d see that.

You should be out looking for a man
instead of spending so much time writing.
Delving into the unconscious, you say.
Load. Of. Bull.
It’s delving into me you should be doing.

That vibrator of yours is crying out to be used.
Though it’s the real thing I want.
The buzz from that yoke, used to give me a terrible
headache, the few times you did use it.

That gay phase didn’t work out very well either, did it?
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to close up shop.
It’s a bit of fresh air I need.
Can you not smell the must?
There’s mould starting to grow down here.


Mná na hÉireann and other poems © Anne Walsh Donnelly

Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. Her work has appeared in many publications including New Irish Writing in The Irish Times. She was nominated for the Hennessy Literary Award for emerging poetry and selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2019. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Woman With An Owl Tattoo, published by Fly On The Wall Poetry Press and the short story collection, Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife, published by The Blue Nib.

To find out more about Anne and to order her books go to her website: annewalshdonnelly.com

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