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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “Jean” by Colette Bryce

A yellowed photograph of a ghostly girl. Her face is not visible.

From The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Vol. III, this Poem of the Week illustrates the hardships of life and the simple fixes one uses to assuage them. The poem personifies both the real and metaphorical walls that close in as the flame of life slips away and the fountain pen runs dry. 


Because last night and because today,
you fix a drink to steady the shakes.

The soft cottage walls are swelling
into your cells, spores falling,

freely, into the pit of tomorrow,
flammable, this life, this sorrow:

fountain pen; an old picture
in a cardboard frame, the face a crater.

Here’s to the cruellest joke, Jean,
that it came too late, and never.

Colette Bryce, from The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry, Vol. III (2013)


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