Their voices

The heat ― the close of another August day.
I rummage drawers of half-sleep for the voices
of my three aunts, lest time erase
the special timbre of their speech: the way

Ann’s laughter survives, despite the din
of a decade’s chatter, erupts in raspy
bursts − gin fizz from a barkeep’s
wand. Her Lucky Strike’s aloft in two fingers.

Flo died next, yet I still hear that twang
in her vowels, the wah-wah of a trumpet
solo at the Sons of Italy dance. Last, let
Ginny’s cigarillo tones request a tango.

My memory’s the vessel — an old jar, lid
punched with holes, to let the fireflies live.

Featured in In the Margins (2017)
First published in Broadkill Review (2015)

Other Poems

Twilight, Ardgroom

County Antrim Archeology


Their voices

Vespers, Hunting Creek


O’Toole’s visionary poems explore the boundaries between light and dark, past and present, life and death.”

—Michael Simms

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