Public displays of reading. A poem by Geraldine O’Kane

In this time of social distancing
I am “being silently drawn by the strange
pull of what” I remember;
how you swivelled over, rested, your forearm
across the back of my chair
and your head on my shoulder,
I had just started reading;
you had too apparently.

I kept pace fingering each line,
we were like grains of sand
in an hour glass, each page turn
our eyes perfectly in sync.

When a phone call came in I’d wait
digit poised as a bookmark.
When I got a call, you’d become marker,
I could feel your waiting breath on my ear.

When the death scene came our heads bent
into the book, if we kept the words
close between us, it wouldn’t really be happening
our relay breaths, slow, deliberate.

Through the last chapter I watched
my finger trace slowly across the page
knowing this intimacy was coming
to an end, I wanted to read with you again
and again but some things exist
only in a moment.
We may never be this close again.


Geraldine O’Kane is a poet, creative writing facilitator, and mental health advocate. She gave a Talk for TEDx Belfast in 2015 on how creativity helps mental health. She was a recipient of the Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) 2015/16 from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her collection is due in June 2020 from Salmon Poetry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *