Órla Foyle Writer

Poet Writer Short and Novel

An excerpt from Husk, a story from my collection Clemency Browne Dreams of Gin

I have written a number of letters to my brother. I have asked him to ask my husband to allow me home. The letters come back to me unopened, but I still go down to the privy, and I cough up bits of bread and blood and oatmeal and I press my womb against the privy wall because there cannot be a baby in me. My husband would not want a baby in me.

Mr Olson comes at night, He wears his moustache thick. His suit is yellow with brown threads. The Shit-Colour Man, old Katie calls him. She squats on her bed and squawks down, ‘Hey there Mr Shit-Colour Man , which one of us if for you tonight?’

Katie tells me she is fifty but she looks older. The food here is slowly killing us, she says. When she opens her mouth to laugh I can see where the tip of her tongue has been snipped into two pieces, like a snake’s. Some men did that to her. They said she talked too much. They said they’d fix her tongue good

A poem from my poetry collection Red Riding Hood’s Dilemma

And Where Else
Sometimes we were mistaken for Canadians
and because we replied Australian,
we seemed to make sense.
School friends demanded why we weren't black
since we came from Africa too.
And where else?
Well, we climbed the ant-hills on the way to Mombasa.
Spoke Swahili but lived on Kikuyu land.
We avoided the secret police in Malawi,
grew used to the prison fence that hid
'The Disappeared',
and in Australia, we learned
Irish are preferred to English,
Greeks and Italians are nicknamed 'Wogs'
and Aboriginals must look good for the tourists.
And where else?
There's Russia and Lenin's corpse,
Israel and bombs in the market place and
Turkish Delight under our pillows.
And where else?
And it was easy to explain away,
Well...you see, we'd say
our parents are Irish
but really,
we're from somewhere else.

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