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Drowning in Sorghum

by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh -

We were fourteen when the Gorman boy drowned

feet first & sunk to the tip of his crown in sorghum

that was the way he’d shouldered out his birth too

a footling breech set adrift now in a burying log

& so slight that he had even slipped through seed

you said to me ‘that box would be near empty

… were it not for his mother’s tears’

in the weeping heat & loud silence of the chapel

my eyes remained dry-trained to the back of you

your hair restrained to the tamed lick of a cow

& your nape naked on the penitence of that pew

I had suffered decades of rosaries to be so close

later while the cousins keened, we slipped behind a stone

me fourteen & you lifting the chaff of the day from my lips

it was me who fell then

letting my anchor loose

letting my breath be taken

like I was drowning in sorghum

First published in Issue 4 of Drawn to the Light


Cáit is an ethnologist and curator who writes at home in the Scottish Highlands. She has published in academic journals and books, and writes for online and print journalism, including Bella Caledonia. She started writing poems in December 2020. Since then her work has appeared in journals including Northwords Now, The Banyan Review, Drawn To The Light, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis. Her poems have been exhibited including as part of Scotland’s Book Week 2021, and she has been invited as a featured reader for Lime Square Poets, Word on the Street, and the Federation of Writers of Scotland. A joint winner of the Boyne Writers Festival Poetry Day Ireland 2021 competition, Cáit is now co-coordinating The Wee Gaitherin Festival 2022. She continues to write, read, and share poems in a world that will always need poetry.

For more about Cáit, including links to some of her poems see . She can be found tweeting at @kittyjmac


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