Image by Annie Spratt


the madrigal, volume iii


by billy craven

Moore Street was scary to me.
Senses enflamed by the heavy scent of
Ripening fruit- thick enough to touch,
Warm and exotic somewhere over my shoulder
I paused to look, then winced, as you spurred me on.
Hand in hand, my little legs struggling to match your stride.

Swept between sellers and stalls, nostrils assailed by gutted fish-
Sharp and violent smells, metallic somehow.

We fled, it seemed, from coarse laughter, language, and cheap flowers.
And for whatever reason the mood had soured.
You were tired and my hand was sore.
The Ilac ice-cream a fading memory but for
my sticky palm, squirming in your grasp.
Desperate to wipe it clean- terrified of being left behind
Three feet high, lacking power and conviction .
Your grip held firm as I stumbled through the throng
How tightly you squeezed, as though perhaps I had done something wrong
I wonder now was it punishment or necessity?
Had I pushed passed your patience and its ever-changing boundaries?
No shopping bags that I recall, a fruitless expedition
Just my hand in yours, your free arm pumping furiously towards Abbey Street.
The other dragging me behind.
But we made the bus in lots of time. Boarded, took our seat.
And I longed to sit upstairs but knew better than to ask.
And still you held on, despite my sweaty palm.
Your grip was always much too strong.

Billy Craven is a teacher working in Dublin 15. He has previously had poetry and short stories published in Shooter Literary Magazine, The Caterpillar and Paper Lanterns among others.