Aidan Rooney – Mal



Yslande brings her fingers to her temple,

taps twice, then presses the heels of her palms

into her cheeks as if about to scream;


Alfrena cracks a smile and claps her hands

to the nothing of a belly she balloons

as if she could be carrying a child;


Myriane rains her fingers from her neck

onto her chest and ends up on her hips

as if just getting the hang of Simon Says;


Christabelle has it in her lower back

the bones of her shoulders pushed up and out

as if her arms aren’t properly attached;


Rosebeline hangs her head, her right hand

on her left in her lap in the repose

of one about to receive communion:


mal, she says, and looks around, mal partout.



Aidan Rooney is an Irish native, resident in the US since 1987; he teaches at Thayer Academy and lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. Aidan’s collections of poetry — Day Release (2000) and Tightrope (2007) — are published by  The Gallery Press in Ireland.

The two poems featured here are from a portfolio of poems written in response to Aidan’s involvement, since the 2010 earthquake, in Haiti. In 2013, the poet F.D. Reeve selected Angel for the Daniel Varoujan Prize (from the New England Poetry Club), awarded annually for a poem worthy of Daniel Varoujan, a poet killed in the Armenian genocide. 


4 thoughts on “Aidan Rooney – Mal

  1. Hello to Aidan, from this Scituate, MA native.
    Thank you for this poem. It is so eloquent, evoking the beauty of pain, and of nonverbal communication.

  2. Thank you, Scituate native, for this appreciation. There’s a good argument against the bearing of witness to pain alloyed with beauty, so we need all the assurance we can get!

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