In these vivid, eloquent poems, Susan Wilson explores childhood memories of Ireland, the expression of identity, and the complexities of belonging.
A Weight Off Her Mind
A little bald head in a hurry,
with a brow bumping passing doorframes,
from the waist up looking like a boy.
Then follicles sprang out of her scalp.
I’m a girl, she said.
With pigtails persuaded into plaits
and easily led to the salon,
they boiled her curls stiff and combed them back,
to be sprayed into a bitter net.
That’s enough, she said.
Silver was sighing at her temples,
so she cut fear short and dared the jibes.
A shy rebel choosing number three,
how she loved the wind on her head.
Finally, she said.
She brushed aside her peers’ remarks,
as professionalism always suits.
Hey skinhead, fall asleep in the chair?
And you call that long, you must be mad!
It’s grown out, she said.
She wore her crown of defiance, pruned
free of tangled thoughts and greying dreams.
Yet the purge that eased was always feared.
Here’s my head, I’ll pick it up later.
If only, she said.
Holidays in Ireland
Two Irish sisters, little pilgrims,
returning home from a heathen land.
Saying prayers in premier class, clutching
Celtic crosses high over the sea.
A strange homecoming to neither hearth
nor kin, chauffeur-driven, Nenagh-bound.
A crooning trio, with Sinatra,
on rocky tracks disguised as B roads.
Lovingly tending an unmarked grave,
while the old creamery churns nearby.
Parked-up picnics on crunchy lay-bys,
watched by the Virgin’s blessing statues.
Candles lit in pious Catholic rows.
Knock and the tap pours holy water.
Confessing they’ve been gone too long,
camcordered images forever with me.
About Susan Wilson
Susan began writing poetry shortly afterwards and joined The St. Joseph’s Writers’ Group (subsequently renamed The Inspired by Grief Writers’ Group) where the bereaved could write poetry, prose and conversations to deal with their emotions of grief and loss. In July 2018 the Group self-published “Good Grief” as a fundraiser. Susan assisted in its design and wrote six of its poems.
Between January and March 2019 she attended a series of workshops at Burley Fisher Books in Dalston, entitled “Regenerate”. The closing event featured guest appearances by Juliet Jacques and Irenosen Okojie and was marked by the publication of “Making Ourselves Up: The Regenerate Reader”. It included four of Susan’s poems. Irenosen Okojie liked Susan’s poems and encouraged her to perform them at open mic nights.
In February and June 2019 Susan was a keynote speaker at two conferences organised by Cerner, an American company active in the healthcare sector. She shared the experience of her mother’s end-of-life care to demonstrate the positive impact of Cerner’s connected information software.
Prior to the pandemic Susan was attending the Hospice’s qigong/mindfulness group, creating her own artwork in their Doodle Group and volunteering in the Chaplaincy Department. She was also performing her poetry at Spineless Authors, a monthly open mic event in East London.
More recently, she has completed a Poetry Masterclass at City Lit in London and her poems also feature on Snakeskin.
Contact Susan on: email@example.com.