Jac Shortland is a Cork woman. Her poetry has been published in a diversity of journals and anthologies, including Antiphon, Into the Void, The Cannon’s Mouth, Silhouette Press, A New Ulster and Causeway Cabhsair. She has been long listed for North West Words Poetry 2016 and Over the Edge New Writer of the Year 2017 and Brian Dempsey Poetry Competition 2018 and commended for Westport Arts Festival Poetry 2017. She is especially proud to have been shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize 2017. Her poems reflect the mind of a woman who hasn’t made her mind up about any of life’s mysteries and most likely never will.
Image: Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Iris, 1926
Nature and Nurture
I could see her life in her newborn face,
my girl, with her androgynous spirit,
she smelled of her own earthiness.
Her anima latched onto my breast,
no bother to her, no frets, I laughed.
I would have no work to do with her.
Solid baby body, her birthed limbs
held the flesh of survival in the womb,
bigger than her brothers before her.
I could feel it off her, her humour,
her ability to lead, to nurture,
to curse warmly, to soothe us all.
The infant fist she would hold for life,
to hurl a sliotar, to feel the leather of it,
to mind the hammer for her grandfather.
She would want no princess dress,
not my Superman in pyjamas,
not my Transformer in disguise.
Small strong woman, moon woman,
dog loyal to her family, caretaker,
craftsman, cat whisperer, best recruit,
solving our struggles, soldiering for us,
chanting for us, dancing with us,
touching somewhere in the core of us.
And my notion she was here before,
walking the walls of the Fort,
looking out at her Cork, her accent
a part of older lives, her real respect
for their fight and their work
and her sound humanity for it all.
My little girl’s dark eyes told me
of a kind of knowing in our bonding
and our mutual need of a back rub.
Her full lips, a piece of her heritage,
so very Irish, so fucking beautiful,
and none of it any of my doing.
On Dead and Dying
Dying is the plant that needs watering
and relocating to the bathroom,
or a window sill,
a more nourishing spot.
Dying is not Dead.
Dead is a rotting mouse back of the cooker.