Eamonn Shanahan – Maurice’s Night

Maurice’s Night

Mornings are worst
when you are most aware
the deep reaches of your unhappiness most apparent.
Did ye sleep? your mother asks.
Your back aches, your lungs ache, your limbs ache.
The whole of your consciousness aches.
The day is a desert ahead of you.

Well, I can’t think what’s got into ye, says your mother.
You haven’t slept for nine nights.
You snapped awake
shocked from a trough
as if by gunshot.
Your mind blew up like a field of terrified crows
which would not converge.

Buses and buildings and people and shops
are far away, out of reach, broken off.
The road roars like an ocean.
This fear
you are soaked in it
this terror
it grips your skull like a latex cap.

The half-arch of the church door closes behind you
sealing off the clamour.
Inside is incense and silence.
Christ hangs, a gash in his side, head scored with thorns.
The Virgin weeps.
This is a pew, that a sanctuary,
and there the dry stations of the cross.

Pass the vinaigrette, I’ll toss the salad, says your brother.
Awake, all night, a firebox in your head, attacked
by maniacs, carved bulbous legs, writhing paisleys, the crack
in the ceiling, falling swirling scattering fragments of everything
you ever were. You curl up like a child
a gritty paste of sweat and sheets.
Until the window zings with the first plane. 

None of ye have been the same since your father died, says your mother.
Depression is medical. A chemical imbalance. Simple as that, says your brother.
Well, in my day, we didn’t have time to be depressed.
It’s the exams. And the break up with that bird. What’s her name?
And when we were down in the dumps we ate apples with milk and honey.
Pills. Anti-depressants. Tricyclics. That’s what he wants.
And baths, salt baths, I’ll get ye some Epsom salts, love.

Pipes. Traffic hiss. The blunt clap of a neighbour’s door. Voices.
Soon you will hear them stomp down the stairs
clank about in the bathroom.
You will hear them chat, like you can’t.
How will you face them?
How will you look them in the eye?
Did ye sleep? your mother will ask.



Eamonn Shanahan (+ family) is shortly returning to the UK (after a lengthy spell in Croatia). He has been published in Magma, Nine Muses Poetry, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Orbis,  london.art.co, and had a selection of poems broadcast on Oneword Radio.

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