Poems by surgeon, Paul Balfe, featured in Irish Times New Writing series

Paul Balfe grew up in Dublin. He studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin and is currently a surgeon at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny. Following a residential course a few years ago with Arvon in the UK, he recently completed a collection (as yet unpublished) from which these poems were taken:


An only daughter, an only child.
Parents long separated, yet under one roof,
By death re-united, perhaps even re-acquainted.

I helped her go through things
After the funeral.
‘The family house’, she said, not ‘home’
Hinted at the permafrost
That chilled the place for years.

Like a sleuth in search of the final clue,
Lace curtains on the garden shed window.
Neat, clean.
I glimpsed for a moment lives of quiet desperation –
Sanctuary sought in a garden toolshed.

We quietly set to stowing the family silver.

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