Friday 13 May 2022

Two Poems by Jeanna Ni Ríordáin


The Opera

 for Andy

I remember the night you died

In the doorway of the Opera

The crowds were filing out

I was shaking you and begging them to help

But one by one they passed us by


I pleaded for someone to call an ambulance

But my pleas fell on deaf ears

They made haste and rushed away into the night

Making their getaway in lined-up private cars and taxis


Some people stopped and stared

With painted faces and gaping mouths

Hovering over us in their fur coats

Taking in the show

I remember you turning blue and cold


To this day I cannot comprehend

How so many people could have just passed by

And continued on their way 

As a seventeen-year-old boy

Lay dying in a doorway


That boy was my friend

The night he died, they were showing La Bohème.

A Gift Shared

Sifting through the reams of condolences

That flooded in following my aunt Nóirín’s death

I was struck by how many lives had been enriched

By her great gift for music


There were messages from former students

Fondly remembering how, in between practice,

She would always give in, to their endless requests,

To play Pink Panther on the tin whistle


There were messages from past pupils

In praise of the big part my aunt had played

In their communions and confirmations

In concerts, celebrations and school plays                                 


One message from a long-married couple affectionately recalled

How my aunt played the church organ on their wedding day 

The message ended with the words:

‘Her smile said it all’


It makes me think of all the times

My aunt played the piano in my grandparents’ living room

Entertaining us with ballads, rhapsodies and concertos

Her long, lithe fingers delighting in every note


Or when I was just a little kid

And my aunt patiently taught me tunes on the piano

Or how she’d sneak me in backstage

To watch her play in the local Christmas panto


Or when she’d take me out on day trips

And blare her favourite songs on the car radio

Everything from The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony

To Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold


I remember how my aunt would whistle and I would sing

And we never wanted the music to end.

Jeanna Ní Ríordáin is an Irish-language translator from West Cork, Ireland. She has a PhD in French literature, a BA in Irish and French and an MA in French, all from University College Cork. She has always enjoyed writing and begun writing poetry in 2019. Her work has been featured in The Quarryman, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus: The Anthology, Volume Two,, Lothlorien Poetry Journal Volume One – The Fellowship of the Pen and Lothlorien Poetry Journal Volume Six – Druids of Cernunnos. Her favourite poet is Victor Hugo.



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