Monday, 20 June 2022

Pairings by Davena O'Neill


That day I wore my hair in a high bun, pins scraped across my scalp. A small lace veil flowed to my neck, wide forehead tanned and shining, eyes bright and full of mischief.

That day I wore a gap-toothed smile, posed angelic, face turned to the light, rosary beads clasped between gloved hands.

That day I wore my sister’s dress, white lace and satin, ending at freshly scrubbed knees. I stood between my parents, a hand of each in mine, chin up, proud, unknowing. He stood facing forward, lip curled. She stood slightly turned, cheekbones sharp as a slap.



Mother wakes me with the opening of the bedroom door. Standing Garboesque, announcing, “She is dead”. Covering my head with blankets, nervous smile crossing my lips, I bite down, bury my face in the pillow. When I look up the doorway is empty.

Later, she stands, back rigid, face dry. I rub against her, catlike, marking territory, waiting for the hand through my hair to claim me, calm me. But hers remain folded. I follow her gaze, spring sunshine dulled through smudged windows.

The coffin is placed between unlit candles. A bouquet of white flowers offers sweetness where none remains

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