May Queens

There we were at the Barracks Arch near Linenhall Square
looking, for all we were worth, like a couple of vaudeville performers
in our Mas’ old Barbara Stanwyck shirtwaists & Revlon-red lipsticks.
Me in my sister’s Peter Pan-collar blouse & Dance-It-Up heels.

Fabulous to a fault, we spent the afternoon collecting pennies
in a washed out soup-can, parading our broom-handle Maypole
like a banner and readying our mates for placement on the Canal’s
middle-bank where we’d Morris-dance freely until we were called for tea.

There we’d muddy our knees to set the thing straight, twisting this way
then the other until we met at its base and the eggshells plucked
from yesterday’s rubbish cascaded down our hawthorn coronets like rain;
our folks entreating to good-room Virgins, ‘Mercy, mercy for their sins.’

This was first published in the inaugural issue of the Belfast-based culture magazine The Tangerine, which you can purchase here.

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