“When the angel came to me” and other poems by Danielle Galligan

When the angel came to me

‘The Virgin…’ He smirked, then
‘Virginity is a complex concept, pet’ I said.
‘I’ve been sent by God; He has a job–’
‘So I’ve heard, you’ve got the wrong girl.’
Then, he grabs my wrist,
‘I must insist.’ Kisses my knuckle,
twisted fuck. I imagine it
going through his skull.
‘I’m not your Virgin, okay hun?’
(I have sharper teeth that tend
to bite off more than I can chew.)
I tip my halo to a jaunty angle
and, standing now, tell him to
‘Beat it, Gabe.
Babe, you’re too late,
my body cannot belong to God,
for my heart belongs to another.
I am my own lover,
impregnated daily with my own possibility.
There is no room at this inn,
there is only room in
this womb for one birth,
my monthly rebirth.
The moon fills her spoons from my newness.
Life does not come without sacrifice,
and I have too much of it to live
and not enough of it to give.
Yes, my body is a vessel
for self-love above all else.
forever and ever,
the end.’


He didn’t like my cheek,
he aimed to rip it from me
with the back of both hands.
I spat a hot, crimson clot
into the centre of my palm and saw
my future in a little pool of red,
staining my head, heart, and life-line.
I wiped it on his face, and, splayed now,
I prayed for a miracle,
to save me as the struggle
was thrust from me.
Am I to believe this is what
the Father would want for his child?
He gazed at me as if he
had just arranged roses
in a vase: ‘Immaculate.’
With a bat of my lash,
I snapped the wings from his back.
With a grin that dimmed
this wimp’s halo, I cooed:
‘So I’ve been told’ and slowly I watched
the triumph drain from his veins.
No more Angel. Just Gabe.
‘Poor babe.’ I winked
as I limped


He said cherries were his favourite food.
Wild or sweet or sour,
he craved these fleshy drupes
with that single groove to run his finger through.

Gone in one
and when he was done,
he’d spit out the stone
and tie up the stalk with his tongue,
wonder where the next cherry is coming from?

I’d never had a cherry–
he’d had many.
He could see the ruby in me:
in my lips, in my cheeks,
down his chin, in his teeth.

Ever been a cherry?
Plucked, sucked,
and turned to pit.


Tattoo of you

Needles in my ribs help me breathe.
Blood spots, drips, and flows.
A secret, for now.
Ebony and currant and crimson.
Not hues of remembrance,
a symbol of strength.
The shades of war,
our war.
A battle that began the night those boots were left on the carpet.
My face in your palm,
wrapped in your scar tissue so I wouldn’t have to form my own.
You absorb shock after shock,
bare blow after blow.
For me,
for us.
And then,
an alliance.
We did not lay down arms when left waiting on doorsteps,
we summoned an esprit de corps.
The sound of sobs into the sound of drums.
Once weeping, now war cries.
Tears cannot sting when you are made of salt.

So this is not pinned to a lapel,
This is on my ribs, under my skin, in my blood.
I flow ebony and currant and crimson.
For me, for us,
For you.


Once upon a winter

Our eyes picked each other
through the falling flakes
​that laced our lashes.​
​Denying ​the chill in the air
carelessly they went roving
carefully devouring
tempting mittens to misbehave
and mouths to do the same.
​We blamed ​the black ice,
that brought our bodies
slipping and sliding,
and gracelessly colliding​.​
I’ll never forget the pain
of pins and needles that came
as you held my hand.
My blood tidal waved, hot
to my numb fingertips.
It, like me, wanted to be
As close to you as possible.
I’ll never be cold again,
            I thought.


And so then, our clothes, lost
like ​the last ​autumn leaves,
billow​ed​ to the ground​ as we
welcomed the changing of the seasons
with our bare young bodies.
We were born in the decay,
the early darkness,
the starkness and cold.
It made us hold each other closer
and warm ourselves on the heat
of the other’s blood beneath.
The steam of our souls,
rose like ghosts from our open throats
wafting out into winter
in the springtime of our years
as we lay, bathed by
the greedy moon. Ruling,
coming sooner, lingering longer.
she would not let us sleep
for she loved us too much.
It’ll never be dark again,
           I thought.

Danielle Galligan is an aspiring poet born and bred in Dublin. She is an actor, theatre-maker and a graduate of The Lir, Trinity College Dublin. She is very excited about her work being on the Poethead site. She has previously been published in the Qutub Minar Review.

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