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Michael O'Neill, from Gangs of Shadow


The first time was in the train.
You grew drowsy,
thought you were awake as you fell
from the ledge of consciousness,
saw the road rushing towards you
through the darkness as you fought back,
desperate to get your hands
on the steering wheel, desperate
to save your daughter and her baby girl,
both of them white and wide-eyed in the mirror.

And now it’s happened twice.
You sat up in the college guest-room,
supposing you were anywhere but there,
the same waterfalling plunge
within you, the same sense control
had left you, the same blankness
when the room floated back to normal,
with its mirrors, four-poster bed
and pink, impassive canopy,
its mounds of pillows and absence of a form
you felt must be there really,
to whom you might have murmured
as your hand reached across the eiderdown.