doula of breach by Eimear Laffan

Poem title: doula of breach: a zuihitsu

Poet name: Eimear Laffan

Poem: 1.

morning broken open by chainsaw / I handpick twigs / from this curated nest / you

can be born again / if not from the womb / from the wound / if not from the wound /

from its echo / in every wager and every water / an elongated winter in the wake /

ossification complete / memory jammed in sutures / how fall reverberates / the fell

renegotiating space



swifts descend on the evening chimney / scissor the air clear / a collocation of

confinement / in the soot throat / Beckett understood / the nothingness that leans /

fast into ruin / the mind that spills



you think too much said a friend / an assertion she has long forgotten / knowing

nothing of how words cure / I cannot forget / I was born of a breach / into the wound

of a body / I wish and wallow in this immurement / thrash against its frame / only a

tiny stone to orient / listen otolith / the body is an anchorite / solitary in space



ravens at the outflow / caw for the channel / to spit the redfish out / the beach a

potter’s field / gills stained in hoarfrost / sockets picked clean / further along the

strand / a child takes a line for a walk / drags a stick through sand



the naturalist names / the birds we hear / nuthatch chickadee o a wren / an excerpt

from the aviary of her brain / the dipper’s head goes under / the ribbon of water /

does the animal smell the relict / or listen past / the decibels of water / to the pitch

beyond rot



the chickadees emerge / from the charred birch / careen close to the scalp / a caress

to raise a coffin lid / blue moves around the body / like water like grief / the

sunflowers fall over / the long of their own stems



the girl holds a conch shell / to the mallet of her ear / even the gift of the sea / is

received as salt / cruelty a child not told / the one hundred iterations of placenta /

the one hundred and eight beads of mala / ricochet off the ground / each rose quartz

tear-drop an anemone / a daughter of the wind



a northern pygmy scans the skyline / for satiety in the form of a songbird / it’s not yet

nightfall / not yet winter / Persephone packs her bags for the underground / does she

love / what she walks toward / how long does it take / to acclimate to darkness’s

depth / where the eternal unseen / doula of breach / awaits his ward of division



maples set against snow clouds / the leaves golden / the cold ancient / I wrote love in

Ogham / painted shaky lines with my unlovely hands / waves across a spine / the

vortex of emptiness swells / the last leaves resist separation / cleave to the bough



the golf course follows / the topography of ground / the pond an imperfect oval /

edged with reeds / the tallest sisters fold over the scab / no wildflowers in attendance

/ no songbirds at the ear / oh for a sister / to split loyalty beyond water / crimson

laughter lines bleed / from the woodpecker’s beak



icicles grip a fallen log / a season hard with knowing / my love conceived / in a dusk

of brine / mimics the mute snow / only the brass fish hazards to intervene / plinks

against the post / when the wind lifts / its small frame



mountains stretch / on all sides / the sky a sieve / all day long / no poem ever ends

Valéry says / the tide comes in comes in comes in / this long-drawn christening

End of poem.

Credits and bio: Copyright © Eimear Laffan

Previously published in aboutness, McGill Queen’s University Press, 2023.


Eimear Laffan’s aboutness was published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2023. She was a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Emerging Poetry Prize in 2022. You can find her work in Ambit, Funicular, Geist, The Ex-Puritan, wildness, and in the League of Canadian Poets Visual Poetry Anthology, Spectral Lines. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.