It came upon me like a thunderstorm, sudden and quick:
I couldn’t walk the streets safely, but I was used to it.
This time, I was swollen and kept swelling all through spring,
my strawberry-eyes mashed and moist, itching with ire.
The nose was the worst: it quickened its sprints
until it lay half-dead, barely able to catch a breath.
From behind my bedroom window I watched the mist
conquer my street: sunflower-yellow, feigning softness,
pollinating cars and bins and toys, then settling down
as a rug subtler than light in every slit, corner and crack.
My doctor said that this is what happens when male trees
are planted without thirsty females to suck up their pollen.
As these hazardous clouds of yellow swirl by, my boiling
tomato head thumps and pounds, thinks of my mum,
who lowered her hot head in the streets, especially crossing
a group of men having the craic, she pretended not to see them.
And I remember how her cheeks caught fire in church
when the congregation passed through the aisle,
the priest swinging his censer as if menacing the Holy Spirit
to take shape at any moment. My mother’s doe eyes fell
to the floor then, pretending that she never saw his shadow-
casting cedar in the back garden, her memories never stained
by the wind-swept pollen on her skin.
Christina Hennemann is a recipient of the Irish Arts Council’s Agility Award ’23 and the
winner of the Luain Press Prize. Her work was longlisted in the National Poetry Competition
and appears in Poetry Wales, Skylight 47, The Moth, York Literary Review, Ink Sweat &
Tears, Moria, and elsewhere. www.christinahennemann.com