17 April 2024
  • 17 April 2024

Both Ends Against the Middle – a poem by Mairi Murphy

on 1 November 2023 0

Both Ends Against the Middle by Mairi Murphy


Mothers knit the streets together:
picking up dropped stitches of the careworn
darning tears, dispensing
gallus compassion, doling out
rampant favouritism –
cheeky bisoms shouting the odds,
one slap fits all.

Everyone named, everyone known,
doors open, falling out, falling in,
swinging lampposts, chalking beds,
deliberate wild but observed
hardly a childless house.

In Closes, cheek by jowl, sisters & aunties
taking in stairs, washing, ironing, mending
making do:
busy hands of the frustrated,
flummoxed, joyful, skint.

Before stone carved altars,
peaceful worship, painted beauty,
time to think, a short walk
from destitution.
Keep my children safe.
Keep my man in work.

Mairi Murphy’s poem Both Ends Against the Middle is taken from Daughters, Wives, Resilient Lives, Poets at the Long Table Amazon Press, 2022. A collaboration with Mairi, Kathryn Metcalfe, Lesley Traynor and Morag Smith.

If you enjoyed Both Ends Against the Middle, why not explore our poetry archive here? If you are looking for local poetry and spoken word events, check out Nights At the Round Table.

  Poetry
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