September 20, 2010 by

Sometimes you wonder if you took the wrong advice

wearing a dress without photographs.  In the silences

of a foreign land, his sadness seeped into your dreams

till you found yourself plotting to steal back

the wedding you never wanted.  The future

that now hangs a prisoner in your mother’s house.

Her anger a police siren in your head, an echo

of the regrets you tore into tiny pieces,

the ring you tossed out with the rubbish.

Was he the prince you failed to recognise

because he was too close at hand?

How many tries at love can one marriage stand?


September 7, 2010 by

The same blue light dancing

on a studio wall in a town

they left behind as strangers

from a different generation.

But now discover they once

stood before the same lens

for the same effect to say

goodbye to the same country.

As if the years were only

small print in the corner

of a photograph and smiles

some strange coincidence of fate.


September 7, 2010 by

Think of me as time stares down the barrel of a gun

and our tomorrows lose their focus till we are mothers

to grown up grandchildren and the missing generations

don’t dare to visit our ghosts but urge us to wake up

to the tick tocking of open heart surgery slicing through

layers of blame.  As if we could walk back into the photograph

and pick up our youth lying discarded under a shady tree

and forget the reasons we ever turned on each other,

the trigger happy memories that blew us apart.

Studio Portrait

September 7, 2010 by

At seventeen, her happiness is self made

and beautiful.  Tailored to seventies chic

with the flair of the suit she sews with

such stylish hearts of hope. Innocent

of the hands she will be dealt,

his fingers greedy and strange.

A holiday stitched into a marriage bed.

No roses, just brown orange bottles

arranged in a glass cabinet that tinkles

with regret.  The years dissolving

into sepia stains as she finds herself

left behind in a land without words.

Just his thirst and their apologies.

if she could travel back she’d warn

those gorgeous, trusting eyes.

Tear open that self assured poise

of a young girl with everything

to dream for.  Rip from the camera lens

the future she once saw reflected, steal back

the years they took from her without asking.

by Aoife Mannix

Miniature Child

September 7, 2010 by

At four years old she looks like a doll

with long limbs, thick beautiful hair.

A tiny face for a smile that grows

and grows, though her body stays

small as a baby.  Her feet slipping

in and out of their sockets, her hips

invisible, her hands reaching

for her grandmother’s face.

Of course she understands love

better than doctors, her eyes

searching for her grandma’s kisses,

the faith that keeps her growing inside.

by Aoife Mannix

I’ll Meet You On The Bridge

August 5, 2010 by


My role as an In Between writer was to respond to the three other writing residencies both creatively and critically. It’s been a fascinating journey, which started with the idea that writers can play a real role as thinkers, provocateurs, and questioners, and a desire  to find more creative ways to talk about participatory projects – their impact and their issues.

I ended up writing two pieces, both called I’ll Meet You On The Bridge, which you can download from here:

I’ll Meet You On The Bridge_A Story

I’ll Meet You On The Bridge_A Sort Of Essay

The story is my attempt to find a creative fictional response to the rich conversation and debate that surrounded Aoife’s, Yemisi’s and Joe’s residencies. The ‘sort of essay’ is a thinking piece where I’ve used texts from all four of the In Between writers (myself included) to help structure and articulate the key themes and issues that arose throughout the project.

Please download the texts, have a read, and let me know what you think.

Ride On

June 12, 2010 by

Love takes twenty years to stitch
into a secret picnic where ladies
on horses ride across the stain of years
as the trees snow June memories
of a boy with black eyes who told her
to be careful not to damage her sight.
Now she stands on a balcony focusing
on the years engraved in her father’s binoculars.
A shadow of a seventeen year old virgin
on a veranda. Proud of her own design,
a gift for the children they never had.
The choices that weren’t hers to make,
though she loved him when she was
young and the heart gallops on.

Deja Vous

June 10, 2010 by

After thirty years, he shakes her hand
and shivers, as if the threads of all those kisses
that never happened still shimmered white
between them. Wisps of linen promises
when she said she would wait, but had to cut
her cloth to fit a man she didn’t choose.
The threat of shame a needle under her skin
as he turns away taking the happiness
he never found back out on to the road.
She only got two minutes after thirty years,
but she felt as if the film of the life she should
have had flashed before her eyes, and she was
as much in love then as the seventeen year old
who sewed her freedom into the wild horses
that covered the cupboard where she hung up her dreams.

The Patriarch

June 9, 2010 by

They were a good family though he tended to see
love with inverted binoculars. Spying on his
daughters from his house on the top of the hill,
he demanded they bend their spoons to his will.
He beat one of them for pretending to drink water
from the well with her girlfriends when she was
really meeting a boy she loved. Her sister
he married off to a distant cousin in a foreign land,
a familiar stranger who beat her far harder than
he would ever have done. His honour lost in translation.
But they remember him with great fondness all the same,
keeping tokens of his travels and swapping army tales
without reproach. For he lived to a grand old age
and he loved them in his own stern, silver way.


June 8, 2010 by

Following the pattern her sister gave her twenty years ago,
she stitches the future into a portrait of young love
where the fountains flow and the guitar is sweet
and warm with possibilities. Back then, she was
too busy to hear those sentimental songs. But now
her hands remember the soft touch of lace
on a summer’s afternoon, a boy with such long lashes
you could stroll out along them and dive into the black sea
of his eyes, a well where they would meet in secret.
The water deep and cool as she showed him her trick
of spinning stories she never planned to finish.
Though now her colours have corroded and her needle
is lost, she pulls each stitch through with infinite care
for time teaches you to treasure the gifts you make.

by Aoife Mannix