Lorraine Carey

At Your Wake

Lorraine Carey

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It wasn't as I'd imagined. You lying like a giant doll

with a grimace, in place of that beaming smile.

Eyelids fused and lashes dormant,

little feathers still part of you.

Your lips painted purpley blue, nails garish

with a matching hue and Jesus dangling

off the pyramid of your fingers.

I stood and stared, urged the flowery scarf

to rise a little, with an intake of breath.

My mind played tricks, sparked a smithereen

of hope that you were sleeping.

Strangers shuffled in, cards in hands, passed over

to our mother, beckoned those to see her baby,

five foot six and almost thirty four.


Not looking herself, she remarked with a smile

as I stood back swallowing the pain,

my cardboard lungs gulped in lavender and coffee.

The kitchen, a hive of clinking tea cups

and hushed tones.

Borrowed barstools cluttered our hall,

made grown men seem ridiculous.

The smell of Febreze, quelled my squall, made me retch.

The interrupting Burco boiled water,

hissed its peak again and again.

The undertakers returned to reapply your make-up,

to conceal your green skin which appeared

succinctly as dusk fell.

Sandy lay beside you, coiled on the mat,

on loan from an aunt.


I kissed your forehead, the coldness startling,

wondered were you wearing socks..

Ensconced in frilly satin, sewn to the innards

of the fibrous box. The minutes closed in,

your lid waited, while we popped in a few little treats.

Two purple Quality Streets, and four

of your Artelac capsules.

Dad stretched for your harmonica, placed

it in beside you, with a third of his heart..

Out into sunshine and a silent crowd,

we each held a lock of that rainbow hair.

Waited for the hearse's slow humming,

as the dimmer switch of loss

turned the world down, for me, forever.  


Lorraine Carey


Lorraine Carey was born in Coventry, England and moved to Greencastle, Co. Donegal where she grew up. Her poetry has been widely published in the following : Vine Leaves, The Galway Review, Proletarian, Olentangy Review, Dodging the Rain, A New Ulster, Quail Bell, Live Encounters, ROPES, North West Words, Sixteen, Stanzas and Poethead and is forthcoming in Atrium, Lagan Online and Launchpad.

A past winner and runner up in The Charles Macklin Poetry Competition, she was a runner up in the 2017 Trocaire / Poetry Ireland Competition. She has contributed poetry to several anthologies and her artwork was featured as the cover image for Issue 15 of Three Drops From A Cauldron. Her debut collection From Doll House Windows - Revival Press is available from www.limerickwriterscentre.com. She now lives in Fenit, Co Kerry.



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