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3 poems by Victoria Kennefick


I love you the way waves love cliffs.

They fling lace skirts against rock,

can-can dancer kicks rush the top,

fall back down; froth clings – a kiss.

Sometimes they wash worn things to shore;

others, they roll silent, say nothing,

tunnel under, hide in echo-dark –

wait until there’s a horizon.

I love you in this way because

you are a planet in space that orbits

the sun coolly, allows for oceans.

I love you in this way because

you let me moon about as a pond,

or thrash and flail over piers.

You scoop me up, stone and soil,

sand I’ve made for you.

I love you, don’t mind if I whip in your eye,

erode a piece, I’ll make up for it –

silt and foam, my wedding dress;

spray and salt, my veil, bouquet of blue nets.

I love you because without you there is just sea;

a body all at sea, waving surrender to sky,

kicking and screaming against the line –

water, not going anywhere.


On the sand you point out where the shop was,

the post office, the pub;

you tell me you walked to the village as a boy,

to stand at corners, sniff the salty air.

Stumps rise out of clay at low tide,

line up like broken soldiers, lean on the wind.

Once they were trees, now they only remember branches,

forget the sharp green of leaves in spring.

A village underwater, I am a statue beside you.

Questions swim round my mouth like fish:

Will the sea reach Shanagarry? Could it march up our hill?

I see it surround our beds, drown us in sleep.

Ballycotton perches on a rocky-ledge, peers

down at the fallen, holds its breath –

the red eye of the lighthouse winks cycloptically.

Waves suck at cliffs, starving for stone.

You tell me villagers relocated,

no one was lost. What once were trees disagree;

tiny waves sneak around them.

You hold my hand; still we watch the tide come in.


Victoria Kennefick’s White Whale (Southword Editions, 2015) won the Munster Literature Centre Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Poems have appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Prelude and elsewhere. Her first collection is Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet, 2021).


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