Evan Costigan


Unsure which way to look when the Mongolian
mother lifted her top on the bus, he fixed on
the puckering space between baby and breast,
appreciating the shape and size of bottle teats,
until breasts flopped from everywhere.

He was back to topless models under teenage mattresses,
reflections of boys with busy elbows in the rewound
and replayed shower scene in Playmates of the Year 1990;
when two-dimensional breasts in textbooks drew titters,
and the rumour that girls with curls had bigger nipples
eventually proved unfounded.

Uncurling her top, she stared his way with a smile,
but he looked away with a shudder of shame
where a herdsman was driving sheep and goats
through pampas grass towards humpy hills,
and resolved to stay on in this landscape—
until thoughts had pasteurised, and he could look
upon the breast as just another udder.

Evan Costigan has had poems published in New Irish Writing, Cyphers, The Moth, Cúirt Annual and elsewhere. He won the 2012 Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award and has been shortlisted in several competitions, including the 2013 Listowel Writers’ Week Single Poem Competition. The recipient of a poetry bursary award from Kildare County Council Arts Office in 2012, he was a featured reader at the Art Bar Poetry series in Toronto, Canada recently.