for Mary Condé

The best so was a Now so!
a triumphant there-you-are
which I tried out energetically
when wrapping a pan loaf
with the new peach-coloured tissue
that came in after
people realised that newsprint
mightn’t be such a good idea
plastered on your bread.
So sugaring what, you so-and-so!

said Carol Carey before
complaining me to Mammy
for rolling six oranges over our black
wooden counter with my right hand
while reading from Maupassant
on my left. I’ll be on to your mother so!
There was so as an alternative –
I’m sorry, but we’re out of Barry’s Tea.
Well, I’ll have Lyons’s so.

Or I’ll have Lyons’s so then!
Pale Ann Halloran came in
shyly, her arms folded,
no preliminary
only a heavy silence
before she said –
I’ll have a sliced pan so!

when there had been no alternative
in the first place.
Like an answer without a question
it was a back-footed scene
so shrouded in ellipsis that
I couldn’t speak –
especially when Anne was so shy too.
I didn’t even get to wrap it.
The Keatings’ green and white
and red and yellow
wax-papered sliced pan
was good to go –
so all that was left for me was
to say Goodbye so!
to Anne’s pink woolen
retreating back
as I pitched coppers
and silver from a distance
of approximately six inches
into each wooden compartment
of the cash drawer
hoping they would land and
they rarely did –
just so.


"So" by Martina Evans, from American Mules. Reprinted with kind permission of Carcanet Press.