Maureen Boyle

Lilacs from the Field of Mars

Maureen Boyle

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Bringing armfuls of lilacs from the Field of Mars
blushing girls hide them under cotton skirts,
stiffening petticoats like the dancers’ horsehair net
bought by the shimmering bolt they have seen carried
to the costumier’s in the neighbouring street. Once in place
they must brave the babushkas who sit in the dusky corridors
of the old theatre knitting, darning the dancers' shoes
holding the block in the satin where blood has soaked into cloth.
The hidden flowers rustle as they walk and when inside
are pulled out in a wash of Spring scent to be handed
carefully over the balcony and down to the blind box
where they will wait until the last beat of his pas-de-deux
and then fall in a lilac shower – flowers warmed
by the thighs of girls as offerings for the young god.


Maureen Boyle


Maureen Boyle grew up in Sion Mills in County Tyrone and now lives in Belfast. She wrote poetry as a child, winning a UNESCO medal for a collection in 1979, when she was 18. She was runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Prize in 2004 for an unpublished collection. She studied at Trinity, East Anglia, Universities of London and Ulster and Queen’s University Belfast – completing a Masters in Creative Writing there in 2005 with Medbh McGuckian. She has received many Arts Council bursaries and in 2007 was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Prize. In 2011 she was a recipient of an ACES –  an Artist’s Career Enhancement Award - from the Arts Council of  Northern Ireland. In 2013 she won the Fish Short Memoir Prize. She teaches Creative Writing with the Open University and English in St Dominic’s Girls’ School in Belfast. Image courtesy of Malachi O’Doherty.