“Leaving White Bridge” and Other Poems by Martina Dalton

This month Trasna is featuring writers participating in Words Ireland National Mentoring ProgrammeEvery year, 22 emerging writers are selected for the program in the areas of literary fiction, creative non-fiction, children’s/YA fiction, and poetry. Each are paired with mentors.

Featured this week is poet Martina Dalton. On participating in Words Ireland, she writes: “I was very honoured to receive a mentorship with the Words Ireland National Mentoring Programme in 2019. The mentoring partnership with poet Enda Wyley, gave me the confidence to make bolder, braver decisions. The support was invaluable.”

Martina Dalton’s exquisite poetry portrays the balance of nature and emotion until the tranquility erupts with the insight of the poem: the branch is snipped, the room is empty, the life contracts.


MARTINA DALTON reads Leaving White Bridge and other poems.


Its colour
ground from mountains.

Its waxy stars, soft,
the in-between colour
of a newborn’s eyes.

Hides its rust
on its underside,
it paid too close attention
to Autumn’s turn.

it has the weight
of a deflating balloon.

Drop it
and it makes no sound.

First published in Poetry Ireland Review. With thanks to editor Eavan Boland.


Leaving White Bridge

I hoped you hadn’t noticed
An honour guard was forming
From under fly sheets all along the river.
Old men being dragged
By invisible hooks
From lopsided mouths
Struggling not to show themselves up.
Caught short in summer shirts
Left to do the shouldering.
The mopping up.
Unread newspapers folded neatly
Under arms
Like precious Tricolours.
For the first time in my life
I took your driver’s seat
And placed my hand on yours
As you tried to grip the brake.
Weak, from months of empty retching.
I halted at the last post.
Buckled, underneath the roar
Of the Mallow train
And the drumroll of the cattle grid.
Turned the clock back to zero.
Set the rearview mirror.
And watched your life grow smaller.

First published in The Irish Times New Irish Writing. With thanks to editor Ciaran Carty


The Cord

No one tells you
when they cut the cord
and place

her newborn head
against your breast.
In that first latch

with every gulp
you’ll feel
your womb contract.

With every book
you read to her
you’ll educate

her choice
to choose new titles
of her own.

And every time
you bring her
to the track

you’re teaching her
to trust her pace,
to run from home

without the need
for looking

You’ll pack the car
with every thing
you think she needs.

Warm socks, a coat,
her every single dress
all squashed.

her favourite bear
to let her breathe.

You’ll travel back
those miles in fog
without a single breath

that doesn’t hurt.
You’ll pull into your drive.
It’s then you’ll see

from all the years
of scolding
she’s pulled her curtains

The empty room
you helped her pack

will stop you
in your tracks.
With every gulp

your womb contract.

First published in The Irish Times New Irish Writing. With thanks to editor Ciaran Carty


Martina Dalton

Martina Dalton lives in Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland. She studied fine art at Waterford Institute of Technology, specialising in painting. Her poems have been published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times New Irish Writing, The Stony Thursday Book, Crannóg, Skylight47, and Channel. She was chosen as a mentee for the Words Ireland National Mentoring Programme 2019.



13 Responses to “Leaving White Bridge” and Other Poems by Martina Dalton

  1. Jeannie Judge says:

    A lovely reading, so true to its meaning. Each poem offers a gift: a touching visual, a tender experience, and an insight.

  2. Anne Devine says:

    I loved each of these poems particularly The Cord. Congratulations, Martina. You capture nature, emotion and the poignancy of family events and in so doing, you strike a cord in my heart. I remember your poems long after I have had the pleasure of hearing or reading them. Well done on all your writing accomplishments.

  3. Chris O’C says:

    Well done Martina! The endings of each just stop you in your tracks. You have such a strong voice. Recognizable in each poem. I look forward to to listening several more times.

  4. Steve O'Connor says:

    Yes, well done. Deep insights into the feelings of a daughter, a mother, and a human being intensely observing and experiencing the world around her and expressing well the meaning it holds.

  5. Marie Clancy says:

    Congratulations Martina, your words always leave a lasting impression on me! Wishing you many more wonderful experiences and continued success!

  6. Eileen Acheson says:

    Martina I savored each word .
    Having heard you read each one before at Poetry Plus I came to them anew thanks to Trasna
    They are ” forever” poems.
    ( read beautifully )

  7. Breege says:

    Love these poems; honest and true, reflecting life and nature, thorns and all.

  8. Enda Wyley says:

    Congratulations, Martina! It was a pleasure to mentor you as part of The Words Ireland Programme 2019-2020. Your poems are beautiful and you were an absolut pleasure to meet and talk poetry with on a monthly basis. Lots of luck with all your future poems – you are in full flight!

  9. Kate Gordon says:

    Martina you cheered the cockles of my heart today. You know I love your nature poems what beautiful “ gems “ they are. I hope your readers treasure those gems and they become “ family” heirlooms for you to pass on to the next generation: the best legacy, a descriptive passage threaded with nature’s gold and silver threads You’re so right: write it and post it get it “ off “ the kitchen table Well done. 🌈

  10. Annemarie Kealy says:

    Your work has moved me to tears, Martina. You’ve captured the profound emotion that’s embedded in the mundane. Congratulations and very best wishes with your writing.