June 18, 2017


by Chaelio Thomas

after Emily Dickinson and Kathy D’Arcy

Evensong in the chapel,
a University Challenge team sits across from me,
glasses and curly mops, with missals and pious expressions.

Shrinking in my Victorian doll coat,
I feel Dickinson’s ‘heft of cathedral tunes’,
the organ: a strange giant, humming, reverberating,
the very building is vibrating.

Whispers, heads down,
all those masculine thoughts, longings, guilt;
simultaneously clustered under a dome,
insulated with King’s College choir boy pews.

Where do the choir sit? (Where should I pretend not to look?)

It starts — they file in, solemn, almost funereal;
the songs wash over me, words fuzzy and submerged.
I think about the bearded boy,
And feel pathetic,
Like a lovelorn groupie.


The organ blasts out a strange ecclesiastical prog:
exultant in its dirty, incessant, pounding.
Scribbling fingers race,
arpeggiating at break-neck speed,
hopping and dashing between octaves,
clanging and banging where cymbals would be.

An Italian tourist raises her eyebrows and smiles at me;
she too is surprised by this torrent of sound.
I am dumbfounded by this breaking of ribs
and exposure of sinew,
this thawing of numbed veins and arteries.

I exhale a stuttering breath
and hold back the tears,
feeling pummelled.

I wipe the sweat from my brow,
And walk across the cobbles.
Feeling angry,
And impatient
for someone to hold.

I should be over it by now.


Chaelio Thomas is a writer from Dublin, Ireland with a strong family background in County Wexford. She is a graduate of UCD, gaining a BA in English and Geography, an MA in Drama and Performance Studies and an MA in Creative Writing. She was shortlisted for RTE’s 2010 PJ O’Connor radio drama competition, a participant in the Fishamble 2012 Playwriting Mentoring Programme and has had creative writing pieces published on headstuff.org, Tales From the Forest and in the Olentangy Review and Stony Thursday Book. She mainly writes poetry and short stories at the moment. She tweets @Jenanifur