‘Heart Surgery ‘ by Frank McGuinness from his forthcoming collection The Wedding Breakfast is our June Poem of the Month
My love, he’s an Olympic champion.
Wimbledon? He’s won more than seven times.
As a boy he survived pogroms in Kiev.
As a girl she called Joe Stalin father.
Where on earth can we find the motherland?
How about Coleraine, among green, green bushes?
The roundabout, beside the Lodge Hotel,
cars spinning, heading for Portrush, Portstewart,
in each a new heart beats for my lover,
lying buried deep in dunes and soft sand.
Dunes and soft sand, where he bared his body,
scarred, the knife’s meticulous manoeuvre,
his bed the size of the Atlantic Ocean —
through polished windows he can see Scotland.
When he’s well we’ll walk there over the waves.
Old women’s stories — who now believes them?
Old women in this ward, loved by old men,
holding hands as if love depended on touch,
touch and go, the give, the take of breathing,
years surviving pogroms, buried in dunes.
by Frank McGuinness
from The Wedding Breakfast (2019)