Frogspawn and The Dead Cow. Two poems by Fionnaigh OConnor


My father’s words come back to me now
Like little gifts to be opened
“Children just want your time. That’s what they ‘preciate most.”

Then, my father strode across the wet field
Moving his hat and clearing his throat
I doubled my steps to keep up with his stride
Collecting frogspawn for school

He carried a Chivers jar, specked with the sediment of raspberries
I thought how different it looked.
Wrapperless and bare.

Dipping my 7-year-old hands into the cold mass of jellied eyes
“Here, use the jar. You are well able to do it!”
I pressed down on the marshy wet pond.

I held it in my hands across the fields
Gauntleted over the thraneens and thistles,
Towards the expanse of the yard beside the cattle crush.

The black jellied eyes seemed to move and turn
Trusting me to bring them home.


The Dead Cow

I remembered her last roar when we took her calf away

The seven of us walking slowly with trepidation
Coming close to examine her lying dead on her side

Seven Lilliputians in school uniforms
Walked towards the black and white uddered Gulliver

Her underbelly was pink and vulnerable
The vast belly rose high into the air

We circumvented her to see
The tongue hanging sideways

I remembered her upright
Useful and milked.

Now here she was.
Heavy and deceased.


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