Geraldine Mitchell 71

Geraldine Mitchell


If we opened people up we'd find landscapes -
 if we opened me up, we'd find beaches
       - Agnès Varda, filmmaker    

If they opened me up, they'd find  
a mood lighting showroom, luminous blue
to begin with, the negative light of my mother's
UV lamp, and us lined up in knickers and goggles 
for our stop-watched time in the sun. 

I spent years on a dimmer switch, grey mornings
luminous enough but undecided whether to step forward
or retreat into moonlight, the nostalgia of pewter,
dreams that aborted, the metallic sheen of
daylight’s deferred arrival.

There I stand still, dragging out the pleasure
of thresholds, timed lighting, of entries and exits,
staircases, lobbies and lifts, neither inside nor out,
not dark, not quite light, still waiting
for the stopwatch to ping.

out of kilter

for Mike Merchant

Get your horizon straight, the photographer said,
dismissing my exquisite picture with four words.

And now, although I know Earth’s surface curves
I cannot leave the house, or go to bed, without

first sizing up the distance, right and left, of
sea to sky or sky to shore. Away from home,

I search for horizontal lines to take
my bearings from: the roofs of houses, a well-

clipped hedge, wires
between old poles

linking farm to barn
scraps of voice still snagged

in the sagging cables,
swifts littering the sky with  

tipsy quadrants
and the noon sun pressing down,

plumb to the tilted ground
beneath my feet.

Geraldine Mitchell is an Irish poet living on the Co. Mayo coast. She is a Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award winner and her most recent collection of poems, Mountains for Breakfast, was published in 2017 and reviewed by Dawn Gorman in The Interpreter’s House #66. Her previous collections are World Without Maps and Of Birds and Bones. She is published by Arlen House.