Cormorants

by Alicia Byrne Keene 

After Sasha Litvintseva’s ‘Every Rupture’

 

I.

 

The swimming pool

radiates a leaden kind of caution.

 

People lie hyphenated by weak sun,

determined on deckchairs.

 

Visit the bathroom

to place your hands in the danger’s path.

 

Let skin hiss into mislaying -

lukewarm, its refracted length.

 

Funny to think of this as a celebration,

a collection of waterways dulled with silt.

 

Fake grass, polished banisters,

a rumple of sea.

 

II.

 

Chaos of mirror-sky,

grainy CCTV:

hope narrowing

to what can be held in a mouth.

 

Our small grumble

rushes through railings,

living a corrosion

that spills to bleach the bark.

 

The swamp has puckered skin,

reflects a skyline’s collapse;

a series of moss-softened cracks.

 

III.

 

The sun-flowing hair of the children

a study in static, hide and seek

through the ruined colonnade.

 

Double all our skylines,

here in this place without touch.

Maybe it will tesselate things,

make a bearable glow;

 

quiet us to lake-surface

levels of calm, a twinned graph

where the spikes of trees pierce water.

  

Throughout the pandemic I have been writing poems that centre around the topics of dream-states, endlessness, and interior space. I was enchanted by Sasha Litvintseva's short film 'Every Rupture', shown virtually by Dublin's Douglas Hyde Gallery in January 2021. The narrative discusses three settings - a cruise ship during the Brexit referendum, a decaying forest in Lithuania, and video footage of tourists from a time when, as the narrative notes, 'we touched things without fear.' The film conveys this uncanny sense of mirroring - pre-pandemic problems now amplified - through kaleidoscopic motifs.

 

Alicia Byrne Keane is an IRC-funded final year PhD student at Trinity College Dublin. Alicia’s poetry has been published in The Moth, The Colorado Review, The Cardiff Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Banshee, Abridged, and the Honest Ulsterman, among others. Alicia’s poem ‘surface audience’ was nominated for a Pushcart Prize; the short story ‘Snorkels’ was featured in Marrowbone Books' anthology 'The Globe and Scales', alongside the work of other Irish writers such as Dermot Bolger, Mia Gallagher, and Louise Nealon. The poem ‘Cloud / land arc’ was nominated for the Orison Anthology.

 

Alicia can be found on twitter @keane_byrne