© By Medbh McGuckian

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The studied poverty of a moon roof,
the earthenware of dairies cooled by apple trees,
the apple tree that makes the whitest wash …

But I forget names, remembering them wrongly
where they touch upon another name,
a town in France like a woman’s Christian name.

My childhood is preserved as a nation’s history,
my favourite fairytales the shells
leased by the hermit crab.

I see my grandmother’s death as a piece of ice,
my mother’s slimness restored to her,
my own key slotted in your door –

tricks you might guess from this unfastened button,
a pen mislaid, a word misread,
my hair coming down in the middle of a conversation.

© Medbh McGuckian, Slips, 1982, complete text, Selected Poems 1978-1994, 1997, The Gallery Press.

This poem by Medbh McGuckian is a study in nostalgia and displacement.

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