Barbara O’Donnell


after Tracey Emin

I married the Atlantic, in a month long ceremony.
Like those gauche bog girls and boys, stacked in ships,
boots full of hope and the price of a one-way passage,
whose fortunes were otherwise tied to windswept,
patchwork greens and milking times. Until the
first Transatlantic telegraph cable from Valentia Island.

For my lover, I stranded myself in the Pacific.
We feasted on raw fish and sweet-salt papaya.
Rested, shell-like, on frangipani-scented nights.
The storms swelled, lashed their own mythology.
His temper, once roused, cost lives and livelihoods.
Reduced the island to near ruination.

Take my body to the Caribbean.
Place it in a handmade fretwork coffin.
Carry me to the sea, set me adrift at sunrise.
Let the Mãe-de-santo preside, strike the match.
Let the drummer start with songs of saudade.
Let the second line dance til the following sunrise.

Mãe-de-santo is a Candomblé priestess.
The public who follow a New Orleans Jazz Funeral’s main parade are called the second line.

Barbara O’Donnell was born in West Cork and now works full time in the NHS in London. Her work has been published online and in print at Atrium Poetry, Dear Reader, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Skylight 47, South Bank Poetry and Poetry24. Her poetry has been included in anthologies from Three Drops Press and Culture Matters.

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