Ray Givans

Aunt Jacqueline

Ray Givans

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After Neighbours signature tune

Jacqueline plucked white hairs from her hair-brush,

shuffled out. Her husband was at the steering-wheel

of the car he guided through wash-and-buff

Tuesday and Saturday mornings.

“Newtownards?” he asked. Always, Newtownards.

After dark they pulled the curtains,

blanked out wandering stars,

until one night a storm breached their house,

slowly carried Jacqueline away

to a tang of disinfectant, to white bed-sheets.


From his wing-back chair uncle scowls

at a tank of O-mouthed guppies,

as his son collects his mother’s clothes,

relinquishes them to a charity shop.

Backwards, uncle climbs the stairs,

limps from one cold room to another.

Evenings he looks across to the void

in his wife’s chair… a draught

washes against the edges of the Telegraph

spread across her lap…

By the bedside he keeps the brush

with its captured loops of white hair.

The radio gravels.

He explores the deep-blue sheets -

unwashed in four weeks - reclaims trace scents.

Ray Givans

Ray Givans has been published in five poetry pamphlets. His first full poetry collection, Tolstoy in Love, was published in 2009 by Dedalus Press, and was shortlisted for the Strong award for best first collection by an Irish poet for that year. His most recent collection, The Innermost Room was published by Salzburg Poetry Press, at the University of Salzburg.