Kathleen McPhilemy


I had been dreaming, now that I’d graduated,
I’d rent a flat somewhere in the city
and live a life of full artistic freedom,

when I remembered the body in the bed
breathing beside me and our several children;

then dozed again, then woke again more fully
to know they all were gone and when I turned
the left side of the bed was silent, empty;
I heard a bumbling in another room
and guessed he’d got up, gone to the toilet.

I forced myself awake, afraid to sleep then wake
to find the bed had narrowed, sheets were chill,
and downstairs noise, the thumps and bumps and crashes
came from carers, plating up the breakfasts,
hoovering the lounge, lining up the chairs
for endless hours of daytime television.


Born and brought up in Belfast. Lived in
Edinburg, London and for past 30 years in
Oxford. Published 3 volumes of poetry,
including The Lion in the Forest, Katabasis, 2005.