Poem of the Week | Before Staying by Vinny Glynn-Steed

Before Staying

after Brendan Kennelly

by Vinny Glynn-Steed


Speak to me of that night of troubled oarsmen, how we found 

our lineage in timber’s forlorn form 

a slanted, broken mast; a forgotten import from Golgotha. 

Speak also of the colour of puddles

the gentle sheen of periwinkles on a helter-skelter shoreline,

hues of lavender and lilac, and of the struggle with our own slants and levels. 

How weight of time slipped our busy hands fumbling with the frame.

And in pallid winter light we stood there afterwards

silent and vulnerable as the orange lilies 

braced against the stagnant on our sitting-room table.

How the painting might have been of us instead

standing in a room, sharing hands and staring at the wall. 

Speak to me of how you have longed for this

of what it means to be outside but looking in.

How in darkness the halogen street-lamp 

drizzles light through mamba green branches.

And before you stay

tell me why the music in your stomach died

how silence packed our rooms in single file

like the shuffling of mute mourners 

after the first time that you left.

Headstuff is now open for poetry submissions for our spring Poem of the Week series. We are extending this deadline to the end of April. We are also accepting submissions for Poetry Week. Submission window for Poetry Week is open until the 31st of March 2020. Check our submissions page for guidelines. 

CoverPhoto by Hassan OUAJBIR on Unsplash