In the Coal House, at the End of the Bed
Why do women cry?
Can anybody tell me why
do women cry? I’ll tell you.
They cry because
they cry because
now I’m a tree straight and tall in the breeze.
Do I look like a tree?
Do you like them?
I love them.
Sometimes I think I don’t have God in my life.
I look and look and sometimes he just isn’t there.
I say to him, howaya, God
I can’t see you
‘cause God is in the coal house
they told me God
is in the coal house
Sometimes I don’t have God in my life
Sometimes I don’t have my bus fare
and then I’m afraid
I’m afraid of being alone.
Sometimes I look inside my head to see
sometimes I look inside my head and find
there’s no one there
because I’m on the breeze
because I never learned to be.
So instead I thought of two possible answers.
God gives or else He gives away.
O God, He gives all right.
He gives life and He gives it
away. Quick. Very quick.
So one day I says to God,
God, as a matter of interest, do you
believe in me?
Know what He said?
Son, says God to me, down at the end of the bed,
to tell you the truth
I don’t I don’t believe in you at all.
Just like that.
I love You, God
Why are women cowards?
Can anybody tell me?
They’re cowards because they never show themselves.
Why don’t you show yourself?
I showed myself
but sometimes I don’t have my bus fare
and God is in the coal house
so they told me
God is in the coal house.
Know what God?
You’re an awful auld bollocks.
From In Flight, Belfast: Lapwing Publications (1995)
Liz McSkeane is a poet and short story writer whose work has been published in many journals and anthologies. She has published two books of poetry: In Flight (Lapwing, 1995), and Snow at the Opera House (New Island, 2002). In 1999 she won the Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award. She is currently writing a novel about the life of St. John of the Cross.