Jeanna Ní Ríordáin
At my aunt Nóirín’s wake Her paintings and family portraits were displayed around her home And her artwork and scrapbooks from her college days Were laid out carefully across the kitchen table The theme of her porfolio was her family homeplace A traditional two-storey farmhouse in the countryside Focusing on details of its interiors and old furniture As the focal point for her study of design The first pages featured pictures of an antique clock Which hung squarely on the wall in my grandparents’ living room And her first ‘old crock’ of a piano which she persuaded my grandfather to buy And which she patiently brought back to life despite the rot and woodworm Another page showed sketches of a large Victorian dining table Which she later had restored and moved to her own family home This was the very table around which we all sat Admiring her artwork and marvelling at her talent The final page displayed a drawing of a small leather satchel Belonging to her sister Margaret, the eldest in the family, Margaret contracted polio in infancy and lost her sight And grew up away from the family homeplace in a care home Alongside the drawing of the satchel, A description in my aunt’s handwriting read: ‘My sister Margaret visited twice a year from Cope Everything she owned in the world fit into this one bag’ In the end, our whole lives amount to just a few mere things Some personal belongings packed away in a satchel Or laid out on a table at a wake Empty houses with old furniture falling into disrepair Only love can bequeath meaning to these things My aunt understood this and left behind a family home Filled with endless reminders of her love And the reassuring comfort of her presence
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 began writing poetry in 2019. Her work has been featured in Quarryman VI, Quarryman VII, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus: The Anthology, Volume Two, pendemic.ie, 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.