Loyal Frontline readers will remember the many poignant articles written by Máiríde Woods who was on the Editorial Board for many years and who now works as Advocacy Executive in Comhairle. Máiríde's daughter Aoife died in the spring of 2001. These poems illustrate the power and endurance of Aoife's life and her ability to inspire. Taken from The lost roundness of the world, by Máiríde Woods 2006 Dublin, Astrolabe Press (PO Box 9837, Dublin 8) €12.00- Available from good bookshops.

The Weirdness of Dead Infantas

There is a shrouded space beside me
that people leave free; not wanting to intrude
or get too close; grief’s easier in Emily Dickinson,
short lines and distance. This space
is wheelchair shaped and I keep checking it
in case your ghost is hungry.
Another mouthful? No resistance,
When spoon meets empty air. As always you’re
silent as the grave, though now and then I catch the
random shimmer of your sounds.
The words I used to speak for you
lie crumbling at the bottom of my bag,
not thrown out, still powdering everything.
How’s the best girl in the world?

Not in the world, I think, remembering
that Portuguese prince who travelled with his
dead Infanta propping her beside him
on foreign thrones. How weird
the guidebook said, but I am not so sure …
Forgetfulness is weirder.


I had met them before; in supermarket aisles
on Sunday walks, at funerals of course,
not recognizing what they were; not taking in
their message even as I pressed my face
to sympathy; they seemed like giant cormorants
crossing my trolleyed path; spilling stories
as far as Star-wars from my fortunate life;
I hope I didn’t yawn or look too often at my watch
as on and on their voices flowed
between the cereal boxes and the cling-film,
The ambulance, the hospital, the awful coldness …
I may have used you as my alibi;
She’s getting tired, we’ll have to go.

Excuses gone, I flap among the broken pallets
handing on grief to women I have met
on sunnier days with children like my own.
Some sup my tale; some edge away
talking of cakes and special offers,
the silly singles of normality.
With my black wings
and constant pallor, I know myself at last:
A harbinger, one who has half crossed over.


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