Mary Mulholland

Mary Mulholland

the grandmothers

a cluster of parisian grandmothers
fakely blond or black-haired 
are elegantly chatting and laughing  
a half-eye on their grandchildren    
and the playground is full
of high-pitched mamie and grandmère   

i’m digging nails into palms   
following my child’s children
as they scale spider ropes designed for big boys  
but they’re not and they’re at the top—

i can see the little one falling 
blood pouring     eyes unblinking     
the other grandmothers staring shocked    
and me barely speaking their language   

i want to ask if i came here daily
would i ease into role  
or are they secretly stabbing palms
with their scarlet nails  

i call to the boys let’s go
and they fly off on scooters
narrow pavements   buses and car-horns
they’re laughing    i’m running
then we’re back—up six floors    no lift      
supper    bath    endless stories
books mostly in french

i wake to their gentle breathing
what is the language of dreams

soon my daughter will open the door
a waft of cigarette-perfume-wine
she’ll ask did you have a fun time    
and i’ll say yes  everything went fine

This year MARY MULHOLLAND’s published in Stand, Spelt, Finished Creatures, among others, longlisted in the National Poetry Prize, Rialto Nature & Place, placed in Wolves, Teignmouth, and mentioned in others. Her pamphlet is What the sheep taught me (Live Canon, 2022)