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New Irish Writing

Poems by Milena Williamson

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Milena Williamson. Photo by Jessica Manns Photography

Milena Williamson. Photo by Jessica Manns Photography

Milena Williamson. Photo by Jessica Manns Photography

Milena is from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. She won the 2018 Mairtín Crawford poetry award and the 2020 ‘Streetcake Magazine’ experimental writing poetry prize. Her poetry has been published on RTÉ and in ‘Oxford Poetry’, ‘Blackbox Manifold’, ‘Hold Open the Door’, and ‘Poetry Ireland Review’ among others. Find out more at www.milenawilliamson.com.

On Our Last Night in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I touch your knee. We leave the bar early,
but as we walk you realise your card
is gone. We loop back —
                                        construction paused
on the street, the closed Amish bakery
where the woman who opened the oven
wore a white bonnet, stiff as a dead dove,
where we ate pastries. We watch a car drive
past a horse-drawn carriage, moving over
into the opposite lane, a wide berth
since horses on the road spook easily.
Each driver looks up from his century
toward the other —
                                At the bar, you hurry
inside while I wait by the door. I shoot
you a loving glance. It’s still not too late.

Love
adapted from the NHS page on pneumonia

It’s more widespread in winter.
Symptoms can develop suddenly
or they may come on more slowly.
Your GP may listen to your chest
and check for crackling or rattling.
Are you breathing faster than usual?
Do you feel breathless even when resting?
Do you feel confused or disoriented?

Most cases can’t be passed between people.
Mild cases can be treated at home.
It’s usually safe for an infected person
to be around friends or family members.
It can affect anyone, but it’s more serious
for the very young and the elderly.

How to enter

New Irish Writing, edited by Ciaran Carty and appearing in the Irish Independent on the last Saturday of each month, is open to writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland. Stories submitted should not exceed 2,000 words. Up to four poems may be submitted. There is no entry fee. Writers whose work is selected will receive €120 for fiction and €60 for poetry. You can email your entry, preferably as a Word document, to newirishwriting@independent.ie. Please include your name, address and contact number, as well as a brief biographical paragraph. Only writers who have yet to publish their first book can be considered.

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