Tom McLaughlin

Tom McLaughlin is a Northern Irish poet who lives in London, where he teaches English Literature in a secondary school. He is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway. His work has previously appeared in Birds Piled Loosely and Pulp Poets Press.

Holiday home

Turf cut from the bog
and left to dry

has been burned in the fireplace so long
its smell is a part of the carpet.

Your playpen is a creel.
Sand piles up

in the corners of drawers.
Slugs squeeze

under the door at night
leaving the kitchen crossed

with silver. A semi-circle
of salt bars their entry.

If you place your hand over the crack
in the bedroom window

you feel a fraction
of the sea wind wheedling in.

The trees in the overgrown garden
cling to you. Your sister explains

they are trying to keep you close
because they love you.

Once you see a rabbit
that doesn’t run away

when you approach.
The swollen eyes keep you at a distance.

The muttering that wakes you
in the strange room

is your sister in the grip
of a nightmare.

It is dangerous to wake her
before coaxing her back to calm.

There is sand in her bed.
It polishes her dream.

© 2019 Tom McLaughlin