Finola Cahill

Underwater Basket Weaving

Pluck your ribs from the bellows of the body,

draw up through fibrous red of throat and sing

from mouth, spit-lacquered, still whole.

Wash the bones clean where the river turns

east towards town, and the smell of the pig

farm downstream is but a suggestion

of waste. Leave your poached ivory to dry

a while in the hotpress, with the spare sheets,

autumn coat, and rattling egg cup of milk teeth.

Next, skeletal articulation—turn convex to concave.

Rearrange ribs with the sure-fingered precision of farrier,

mechanic or acrylic nail technician. Once correct

spacing and shape are set, find a quiet place,

replace rib cage, and forgive yourself

a yelp, but not two. Refurbishment now complete,

he will marvel how you fit him with ease,

efficiency, perfect indent to lean, push

to the quick. Oh,

he will think you were just made exactly for this.

Not body but basket, not body but blanket, not body

but bungee cord, breakfast plate, marriage bed’s

mattress spring—not body.   He won’t hear

the catch when he draws too close and your inverse

geometry presses flush against lung’s latticework. So, 

hold your breath. Protect the tender, essential

self, I tell you it’s worth the risk. He need never

know how you broke yourself to beautifully fit him.

A woman’s work—done well—is felt but never seen. 

Finola Cahill is a writer and musician from Ballina Co. Mayo. Her poetry has been published in the London Magazine, An Capall Dorcha, and others. In 2023 she won the Waterford Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for the Fish Prize, the Bridport Prize, and the Listowel Writers Week Collection award. She is an agility award recipient.