Mother's Pride

Handy with a knife,
his preferred medium
was Mothers Pride plain toast.
This is the way the nuns
eat – soldiers. This
is the Protestant half.

Here’s Omagh, Belfast,
Enniskillen, Dublin, Donegal
with Errigal hastily moulded
from Clew Bay, a crumb
for an island for every day
of the year, and Cork,

where John Mac lives.
Lough Erne’s two narrow slits;
Lough Neagh a slanty
oblong poked right through.
A final flourish, grinning,
his pièce de resistance

was the border
which my frowning mother
quickly buttered over,
stabbing the bread,
drawing the knife
out clean.


Paula Cunningham


Paula Cunningham was born in Omagh, County Tyrone, and lives in Belfast. She won the Poetry Business competition in 1999, and a poetry chapbook ‘A Dog Called Chance’ was published by Smith/Doorstop that year. Her poems have been widely published and anthologised; she has also written drama and short fiction. A short story appeared in David Marcus’s ‘Faber Best New Irish Short Stories 2004-2005’. In 2011 she won the Hippocrates Poetry Prize and was commended in the Edwin Morgan Prize; in 2013 she was placed third in the Ballymaloe International Poetry Competition. Her first full collection, 'Heimlich’s Manoeuvre' is due imminently from Smith/Doorstop. She currently holds an award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, having done so twice previously. She works part-time as a dentist and is hard at work on her next poetry collection as well as short stories and non-fiction. She is also very interested in visual art, collaboration, teaching and translation.