Linda McKenna

Star Signs

Linda McKenna

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In the days when asylum meant safety,

my aunt says nurses and patients plotted

star charts together; assigning destiny

by the peal of bells, or rough guess at time

of birth. She swears she could predict

the malady by the sign; crabs and fish

melancholic, bulls and goats lethargic,

scorpions and lions violent. The air signs,

born mimickers, were trickier, until they

gave themselves away; in the oaths of Isis,

the seasonal droop of Persephone, the songs

of the Gypsy woman who begs by the Sans Pareil.

On full moon nights, the asylum in uproar;

the nurses hugged the patients tight,

chanted in their ears; you were Moses

drifting out to sea, we waded in, saved you.

We dug you from the earth, cleared

your mouth of soil, showed you the sun.

You were a brand plucked from the fire,

see how the scorch marks fade. And you,

of air, floating far above the city, we took

huge nails of iron, anchored you.

Linda McKenna

Linda McKenna’s debut poetry collection, In the Museum of Misremembered Things, was published by Doire Press in 2020. The title poem won the An Post/Irish Book Awards Poem of the Year in 2021. She has had poems published or forthcoming in, among others, Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, The North, The Honest Ulsterman, Crannóg, Acumen, Atrium, One, The Stony Thursday Book, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Abridged, Skylight 47, The High Window, Raceme, The Poetry Bus. She lives in Downpatrick, County Down and is working on her second collection.

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