We're delighted to present our Poem For The Day, presented in association with Poetry Ireland. 

Today's poem is Valentine by Mary Noonan, taken from her collection Stone Girl (Dedalus Press 2019) - read it below. 


Valentine

The girls are in their knickers again.

It's that time of year. There are hearts –

red, plush or sparkly – dangling in windows,

and teddy bears, and girls. Undressed.

It must be cold under the white lights

of the display. The yellow street lamps add

a sickly glow to the anemic bodies. They look

pinched, the thin girls in their frillies – pale

pink lace balcony bras and high-rise briefs

with touches of white satin. One girl

stares out, brazenly, a ring-leader of sorts.

She’s the one who has graduated to wearing

scarlet and black, with sheer stockings and

suspender-belt. The works.

The new storms – Gertrude, Henry –

are blowing in from America, up-scuttling

bins, rivers. There are ice crystals in the

low-flying clouds, causing rainbow effects.

A child on his way home from school stops

to take in the hearts, the teddies, the scanties,

mesmerised by their magical affinities.

I stand there imagining what happens

at 4 a.m., when there’s only a dim night-light

burning, and the tableau vivant starts to move.

The mannequins peel red tinfoil from heart-

shaped chocolates and scoff them, then lie

under heavy blankets dragged from the next

window and hold each other. Sleep.


About The Poet: Mary Noonan teaches French literature at University College Cork. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, The Dark Horse, Poetry London, The Spectator and The Threepenny Review. She won the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in 2010 for the manuscript of her first collection. That collection – The Fado House (Dedalus Press, 2012) – was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and the Strong/Shine Award. In 2014, she was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Literature Bursary. A limited edition pamphlet, Father (Bonnefant Press) was published in 2015. Also in 2015, she curated This Dust of Words, a poetry translation series in which contemporary European poets read with their English-language translators and discussed the process of translation.