Jessica Traynor

The Water Table  

On my night-walk to the city
I taste water in the air;
the river has escaped again.

Below me the vengeful sea
forms water-table committees
that mutter in the shores

and the approaching shadow,
hood up, shoulders rolling,
could be the death of me –

like the man who’d stood
in Henry’s Street that afternoon,
crack-addled, screaming his love

for the children of Dublin.
Shores shudder beneath my feet
as the city forms new cracks

along fault lines I can’t see;
as water rises through
hundred-year-old drains,

shell-shocked, frostbitten;
as it pours through catacombed rivers
flooding our venom back to us.

The shadow lunges, laughs, is gone.
Beneath us, the sea sleeps
before the next great push.


Jessica Traynor is from Dublin. Her poems have featured in Southword, Poetry 24, the SHOp, New Irish Writing and The Stinging Fly among others. She has won the Listowel Single Poem Prize and has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award, the UCD Anthology Award and the Strokestown International Poetry Competition and has had poems highly commended at the iYeats Competition and the Fish Poetry Prize. She was awarded a literature bursary from Dublin City Council in 2010 and featured in the 2009 Poetry Ireland Introduction Series. She was the winner earlier this year of the Hennessy Literary Award.