In the Coal House, at the End of the Bed – by Liz McSkeane

In the Coal House, at the End of the Bed

 

Why do women cry?

Can anybody tell me why

do women cry? I’ll tell you.

They cry because

they cry because

they cry

 

now I’m a tree straight and tall in the breeze.

Do I look like a tree?

Do you like them?

I love them.

 

Sometimes I think I don’t have God in my life.

I look and look and sometimes he just isn’t there.

I say to him, howaya, God

I can’t see you

‘cause God is in the coal house

they told me God

is in the coal house

is God.

 

Sometimes I don’t have God in my life

Sometimes I don’t have my bus fare

and then I’m afraid

I’m afraid of being alone.

 

Sometimes I look inside my head to see

sometimes I look inside my head and find

there’s no one there

because I’m on the breeze

because I never learned to be.

 

So instead I thought of two possible answers.

God gives or else He gives away.

O God, He gives all right.

He gives life and He gives it

away.  Quick. Very quick.

 

So one day I says to God,

God, as a matter of interest, do you

believe in me?

Know what He said?

Straight out?

Son, says God to me, down at the end of the bed,

to tell you the truth

I don’t     I don’t believe in you at all.

 

Just like that.

 

I love You, God

I love

 

Why are women cowards?

Can anybody tell me?

They’re cowards because they never show themselves.

 

Why don’t you show yourself?

I showed myself

 

but sometimes I don’t have my bus fare

and God is in the coal house

so they told me

God is in the coal house.

Know what God?

You’re an awful auld bollocks.

 

 

From In Flight, Belfast: Lapwing Publications (1995)

Liz McSkeane is a poet and short story writer whose work has been published in many journals and anthologies. She has published two books of poetry: In Flight (Lapwing, 1995), and Snow at the Opera House (New Island, 2002). In 1999 she won the Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award. She is currently writing a novel about the life of St. John of the Cross.

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