Our Poem Of The Week, presented in association with Poetry Ireland, is While Bleeding by Doireann Ní Ghríofa.

While Bleeding


In a vintage boutique on Sullivan’s Quay,

I lift a winter coat with narrow bodice, neat lapels,

a fallen hem. It is far too expensive for me,

but the handwritten label




brings it to my chest in armfuls of red.

In that year, someone drew a blade

through a bolt of fabric and stitched

this coat into being. I carry it

to the dressing room, slip my arms in.

Silk lining spills against my skin. I clasp the belt

and draw a slow breath as a cramp curls again,

where blood stirs and melts. In glass,

I am wrapped in the weight of old red:


  red pinched into girl cheeks

  and smeared from torn knees,

  lipstick blotted on tissue,

  bitten lips, a rough kiss,

  all the red bled into pads and rags,

  the weight of red, the wait for red, that we share.


In the mirror, the old coat blushes.

This pocket may once have sheltered something

precious  a necklace, a love letter, or

a fresh egg, feather-warm, its shell brittle

around a hidden inner glow, held loosely

so it couldn’t crack, couldn’t leak through seams,

so it couldn’t stain the dress within.

About The Poet: Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. Her most recent book is Oighear.  Image: Niall Hartnett