“Red Wine for Winter” by DS Maolalai

the snow melts grey into late december
and mean music is making a sudden comeback in the bars
saxophones and tatters of rattled live drumming
after that santa stuff’s been running things for months.
at 11 I head out and pick up something to drink;
red wine is for winter, white wine for spring,
and it’s still winter here so I grab a cab sauv.
and listen to the guy ahead of me while he flirts with the countergirl
“nothing doing this evening – figured might as well get drunk.
hey, what are you doing this evening – you want maybe to get drunk?”
she waves me through to pay and maybe to get rid of him
and through the window I see him struggling with his bags and a bike helmet.
he might still slip and die on the ice tonight, I think while I pay
and then step outside.
the night stretches off, long and dark as the colour of the wine bottle,
long and lonesome and cold and dark,
wind and rain and black ice on footpaths
coats clung tightly and howling deep blue
I button my jacket in the cold like the soaked fur of animals
and wind sounds
over the lake
and wind sounds
making nobody comfortable
between the buildings
and outside of the city
miles away
in the forests and over the hills.


DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights looking out the window and wishing he had a view. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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