“Motorway Man” by Martina Dalton

Martina Dalton


I want to tell you: I watched you sleep on the side of the road 
with your chest held in the fireman’s hands. His face turned 
from the traffic slowing down. 
Not sure what I was witnessing at first—uninvited to your death. 
As your breath rose up higher than the traffic fumes. Red arteries 
clogging up the grey sat nav screen. 
You—only doing what this day, this hour had been marked for you 
to do. In your ordinary car, your pale blue retired Dunnes Stores 
jumper a daughter might have bought for you for Father’s Day. 
Had your wife lain it out on your bed the night before? Shopping list 
folded in your trouser pocket, the word cocoa printed neatly 
in black ink. The hankey she had ironed. The list (I imagine now) 
of things she will have to learn to do without. 
The skin that will form on the milk as it warms there on the stove 
in the little silver aluminum pan. In the dark of their kitchen:
the blue flickering light.

from Rattle #79, Spring 2023
Tribute to Irish Poets


Martina Dalton: “I write poetry as a way of re-remembering. I am inspired by the landscape where I live, in a seaside town. I walk daily among birds and sand and sea, all of it changing. Sea always leaving, always bringing something to my feet. Writing poems feels like that.” (web)

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