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Gaynor Kane

Home: A Haibun

Under the shadow of the world’s largest cranes, the girl in the designer tracksuit weaves around the Saturday shoppers, as they saunter through the city streets arms evenly laden with plastic carrier bags. She is even quicker past the beggar, slouched against empty shop hoardings in Castle Arcade.  Until - she sees the dog - stops - fetches out a rawhide bone. Without making eye contact she realises the homeless girl only has a cardboard box windbreaker for shelter, a crocheted baby blanket draped over spider thin limbs. Her exposed skin is snail-grey.

guilt makes her scoop change
covered in pocket fluff, coppers
jangle in begging bowl


I’m transfixed by the Arachnid’s ingenuity, she is hydraulic jack, trolley, removal van, crane. Spinning her gossamer strands, up and down between branch and new abode. Relentlessly. With each revolution her house is a sliver higher into the safety of leaf cover. She is so small, just skin and bones. Her rope is fragile fine. But she has sensed there is a storm coming. has a plan for shelter and I can see the determination in her. I make lunch, put a wash on, brush up leaf drifts from corners and kerbs and when I return to check on her she is almost home.

snail long departed,
pearlescent with rain, vacant shell
now a sanctuary


I think of you, all those years ago. After the workers strike in the 1970s, when I made toast in front of the open fire because we’d no electric or gas. The UDA put Betty into the empty house down our street (rumour had it she never paid a days rent in her life). By the time the strike was over the firm you worked for had gone bust because they’d lost so many contracts. You exhausted your web of contacts; the telegraph job section was thin. But the mortgage needed paid and Mummy couldn’t clean enough houses to cover it. You went to Liverpool for work.

docked where the slave ships
sailed from. Scoured the streets for digs
no blacks, no dogs, no Irish

Gaynor Kane lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her poems have been published in journals and anthologies in the UK, Ireland and America. Most recently her writing has featured in The Honest Ulsterman, Poethead: Index of Women Poets, The Selkie, The North and The Interpreter’s House. In 2018, Hedgehog Poetry Press launched their Stickleback series with her micro collection ‘Circling the Sun’. Her chapbook, on burial rites and last wishes, is due to be released in November 2019, also from Hedgehog Poetry Press. Gaynor is now working towards her debut full collection, with thanks to a SIAP grant from the Arts Council NI. Tweets @gaynorkane