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.



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