Guest Poem by Linda McKenna

Linda McKenna’s debut poetry collection, In the Museum  of Misremembered Things, was published by Doire Press in 2020. The title poem won the An Post/Irish Book Awards, Irish Poem of the Year. In 2018 she won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing and the Red Line Festival Award. She has had poems published in a variety of publications including, Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, The North, The Honest Ulsterman, Crannóg, Atrium, the Poetry Bus. She is working on her second collection of poems. She lives in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland.

Learning to Swim

Every woman should know how to swim,
so she can navigate the treachery of land;

the currents and riptides dragging her back
to the crossroads of youth, paths never taken,

the waxing and waning longing of streets.
We stand in a line, at the tiled edge of shamelessness,

detached from the world, its purses and earrings,
the tightly woven reins of mother and daughter.

Immersed in this warm, cocooned womb, we imagine
navigating by stars, charting the progress of gulls,

tasting ten types of rain, everything we might need,
before meeting the sea, its tangle of driftwood

and salt, fishbones and rope, our proper element