Poem - "Child On A Swing"

By Betty Keneavy-Nipoti

This poem was written based on a story told to  Dolores Stewart, a daughter of John Joseph Stewart.  It is a story that I heard as a child, but it was Nellie Stewart who told the story of why she went to Dublin as a child.  The two Stewart daughters on the swing were my Mom, Elizabeth and Nellie.  A letter had been written to the Keogh family on North Circular Road, Dublin asking for a companion for their child, and since there were ten children in the household.  How my life would have been different or the Doyle family, if another child was chosen.

                    CHILD ON A SWING, OLD CHAPEL, 1922

Whenever, I see you now. I see a child swinging in a country garden setting.

For familiar handwriting and the hoped for invitation to leave home.

The railway cottage laced by dawdling mail trains and windfalls.

Years later, you remembered that day – All fingers and thumbs – tearing open.

The letter when it cam, your sister’s fallen face, Now.

When I visit you in the old people’s home, your face lights up in instant recognition.

Yet you memory cannot place me, and you swing from sentence to unfinished.

Sentence casting around in silence to find the word to say over and over:

“But you’re ours, you’re one of ours”


Published by

Dolores Stewart, Presence of Mind. (Diedalus Press 2005)

Dr. Stewart is with the School of Education, NUI, Galway and has just recently published O Flocal go Focal – a thesaurus of Irish words.



This page was added on 19/06/2013.

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