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CATHERINE FOLEY

 

 

 

 

 

catherine foleyCatherine Foley is a full-time writer and broadcaster. She is also a former staff journalist with the Irish Times. She is a regular contributor to the iconic Sunday Miscellany programme on RTÉ Radio 1, and her work has been included in subsequent anthologies, most recently in the new collection of essays entitled September Sundays, which is published by New Island. Her work, entitled 'Secret Letter Writers', was included in the short story collection, Irish Girls are Back in Town, and published by Town House Press in 2004. She has had three Irish-language novellas published: An Cailín Rua and Sorcha sa Ghailearaí won first and second prizes at the Oireachtas Literary Awards respectively, and her most recent novella, Samhradh an Chéasta, was published in 2011.She is a regular writer and presenter for the Irish language television station, TG4, and she’s had a number of short stories and poems published in literary magazines such as The Stinging Fly, An Linn Bhuí and the New Hibernian Review

 


______

 

Guatemala

Sounds of Distress

 

______

 

 

 

Guatemala

 

I spent an afternoon climbing a mountain once

In the company of a young Mayan boy.

He was small, dark-haired and bright as a sparrow.

He pointed to the tall trees and the various plants along the way

And tried to teach me some words of his native tongue.

 

As we went higher and higher towards the grieving Guatemalan village of Xecotz

I knew that the paucity of opportunity in his life and the wealth of chance in mine

Lent significance to that meeting

At Easter time in 2003. 

 

But, there were no cosmic forces at play that day. 

In fact, we were just ships in the night

Who parted at the top.

Back home I wondered once how that young boy might fare.

I know I’ll never, ever see him again.

Unless, perhaps, in another life,

Our spirits cross:  

Then we’ll cleave to one another,

He beyond the butchery of that place,

Me sublimely free of monetary concerns,

And all the other constraints that bind.

 

 

______

 

 

 

 

Sounds of Distress

 

The nurses in yellow tunics 

Against the grey walls

Are dashes of colour in the women’s ward.

White shapes on blue plastic mattresses budge,

Stainless steel dishes on a trolley shiver.

 

She is a spot of pink on a canvass stretched,

Attached to green tubes,

Brown stains on her pyjamas tell a tale

 

 “O, take whatever you like, I don’t mind at all,” she says,

Proffering her forearms to the registrar.

“I come from three generations of doctors.”

 

He nods and exits neatly.

He’ll be back.

 

“Super,” she says, her voice buoyant,

Bouncing with him along the corridor,

  

A patient opposite moans in pain.

 

She sits for a moment on the bed and fidgets

Until he returns to inject fluid into her veins.  

 

“Super,” she says again and

Looks away as if to watch

Her protestations of nonchalance

Echo falsely off the opposite wall.

 

 

 

 

 

©2013 Catherine Foley

 

 

 

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