I’ve been wanting to read this poetry collection for a while now. My interest was originally raised last year after reading her short story collection “Somewhere in Minnesota and Other Stories” . Whilst researching for the post I wrote on that book, I found out she wrote poetry, this caused me to dig deeper and I found this anthology, but like a lot of books it went on to my wishlist until finance or some other reason bumps it up & I purchase it. This was my reason….
I Saw Beckett The Other Day
I saw Beckett the other day
in the doorway of that café
where you took his photograph.
You know the one
...when he looked up at the lens
and realised how he could
haunt us all.
'Hey Beckett,' I said
rejoicing in my discovery of him;
his hand on the door, his eyes
skimming over the interior image
of cigarette smoke and coffee.
I stood beside him. He rubbed his face so
he might recognise me. I smiled and
said even I didn't know what was
happening these days.
Even I could not stop the end.
He nodded, coughed and looked sly; his teeth were
yellow over the pink rim of his lips.
He mentioned the photograph. He said his face
had collected worms under the skin as if ready for
death and he smiled to show them dance
spasmatic with age-spots and veins.
Someone entered the café. Someone left.
Beckett touched the hair above my ear.
I stood on tip-toe so he could whisper down.
He said nothing. It was just a kiss
with the cold wind at our feet and the
smoke and egg friendly air
released in draughts between
the opening and closing of the café door;
which he stepped through to find his table
and entered some other world,
under greasy lights
coupled with table shine and coffee cups,
and thoughts of death, where she stood
groomed for an entrance, were held back by
the odd moments of life
that still strung the useful breaths
Beckett used to blow his coffee cool.
I love the conversational tone of this poem & those lines “You know the one...when he looked up at the lens and realised how he could haunt us all” ,it instantly calls to mind those iconic images of Samuel Beckett, staring off into some distant space, the look part defiant, part fearful, haunted or haunting I'm never quite sure, just that the eyes bore deep, deep into you.
Words said to a Poet just before her/his demise
Poetry is useless.
It only uses words and
they can be rubbed out.
Same way as we
rub you out.
Just a vacancy,
not even a breathe left.
- if you insist
to exist – in books
well … then …
we can burn you up...
all over again.
Red Riding Hood’s Dilemma, starts with a short poem of the same name, whose opening lines “Should I kill the wolf – or invite him to tea”, reflect (I think) a question running through this collection, we have poems of love & life cheaply spent, of death & of passions strong, here bodies ache, hurt, not in theory, the torment is real, as are the questions left unanswered.
Órfhlaith Foyle was born in Africa (Nigeria) to Irish missionary parents, she has also lived in Kenya and Malawi, and later she lived in Australia, France and Russia, all of this is sustenance for the words, the tales that unfold through her poetry, migrant songs with all the darkness & light that make up human beings and their journeys through and in this life, because at the end of the day, that question running through this collection - is that of mankind's.
Red Riding Hoods Dilemma