New Irish Writing | 

Poetry by Brenda Spaight

Winning poem for April

Breda Spaight, April's winner of the New Irish Writing's poetry selection

Breda Spaight

Breda’s poetry is widely published. She is the recipient of a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council. Arlen House will publish her debut collection, Watching for the Hawk, next month. Her debut chapbook, The Untimely Death of My Mother’s Hens, is published by Southword Editions in their New Irish Voices Series.

First Boyfriend

for H

When he spreads the centrefold of Miss July on the red Formica table, I think of the stuffed fox in the living room. I hear the television. We’re having beans on toast. Behind the fridge is his father’s Playboy stash. It’s my first time in his house. The fox shocked me earlier. Its lower molars are regular as a saw blade in its snarling mouth. As though sullenly in retreat from the henhouse, it lurks, its brush broader and longer than its starved body, and the vigorous insistence of its yellow tourmaline eyes say you are the intruder. This is my mother, he said. I hadn’t noticed her in the room. Dark hair, dark clothes — a full stop on the couch, she continued to stare at the screen, stunned, like the fox: its face is without pain but hidden on its beautiful body is the bullet wound scar. I try to understand mothers since my mother’s death. By wanting answers, I’m practising how to suffer. He’s 15, so am I. Fingers entwined, we walk the riverbank. We trace deer tracks in the wood, our arms laced like vines. He sketches horses, their curves and muscles like deltas he swam in to inhabit the charcoal contours. He’s not in my thoughts when I’m alone. He’s an interlude, a crumb trail in my hours, the sleepless nights of my father’s drunk argument through the house, looking for… Who can say? I don’t talk about home. He has not kissed me yet, and Miss July suggests he’s daunted by the white-hot body slinky as an albino boa, long ivory legs, arched alabaster back, cream breasts a string of pearls trickle between, down the salt belly. Looking back, I see a boy and girl trying to decode – not the future — but the present. We can’t guess our future – he’ll die in his 20s, and I’ll write about us: in love before we learn about love, suspended in a moment, like the fox but not like the fox.

How to enter

New Irish Writing, edited by Ciaran Carty and appearing in the Irish Independent on the last Saturday of each month, is open to writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland. Stories submitted should not exceed 2,000 words. Up to four poems may be submitted. There is no entry fee. Writers whose work is selected will receive €120 for fiction and €60 for poetry. You can email your entry, preferably as a Word document, to Please include your name, address and contact number, as well as a brief biographical paragraph. Only writers who have yet to publish their first book can be considered.

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