ShadowDollSister by Jean O’Brien

My shadow doll went out into the world

while I stayed home. I dreamed her into

being. She flickers like a guttering candle,

and slips through midnight’s eye, I do not follow.

She lives in a world inhospitable to me,

moves about under wraps, a black shadow

viewing everything through the blur of a grille.

At home I look through rain-streaked windows,

everything is netted in mist, cuckoo spit

clings to the lavender, frog-spawn litters the pond,

the world outside is a jellied mess

of tangled words left to fester in the heat.

My shadow doll is like a lost sister, she speaks

with authority to the bees and owls,

even the trees hush their whispering

and listen. I stay silent hoping the dread that hangs

will lift like a startled flock of sparrows.

My shadow sister soaks up all my bads, my strife,

my murderous impulses. I watch as she endures

the blunt knife. My sister.


Jean O’Brien is working on her 6th collection, which will be published by Salmon Poetry, an award winning poet she was most recently awarded the Patrick Kavanagh fellowship, she also won the Arvon International (UK).  She holds an M. Phil in cw/poetry from Trinity College, Dublin and tutors in poetry.

Jude Cowan Montague is an artist and broadcaster. She produces 'The News Agents' for Resonance FM, a weekly show experimenting with international story and the arts. She worked at Reuters Television News for many years as an archivist and this has informed her poetry and some of her art. She's an award winning printmaker and a composer. Her graphic memoir 'Love on the Isle of Dogs' is available from Central Books.

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