(Motel Ghosts) Audrey Molloy

Motel Ghosts

Ever wonder where they go? The souls
of the extinct—not the bones
of pipistrelles, finer than eyelashes,
the rufous down of boobook owls
or starry pelts of quolls,
but the imprint of their lives on time’s roll.
I’ve seen them in the toile-covered walls 
of dim motel rooms,
their faces spooking restless guests.
Or on a stuffy sofa,
patterned by day with swollen roses,
there, night-time mouths appear
as clownish leers or Munchian howls
and Rorschach ink-blot bats
that twitch their leather folds.
In the chintz gap, the Antipodean
face of the moon is a fur-seal pup
and only if you look aslant
at the blankest gap
will they appear—a spray of gems 
atumble on a velvet tray. 
Look too close and they evanesce
like the Slipper Orchid’s flutes
known only to a blasé damselfly.
This quiet menagerie of lost ones
wanders the quarter light
mouthing: Remember us.

How I Knew It Was a Dream

The day was strange from the start.
Small things, like the way the grass
leaned towards the dying moon,

or the air lifted the table linen.
The eggs, when rapped lightly on the bowl,
rapped back, and this went on, back

and forth, until I tucked
them in the warm cleft of my breast,
where they sang like happy kettles.

The solemn badger in the hallway
held my Barbour coat as I slipped it on.
A strange day, I tell you.

People were talking in the street
and on the train, heads thrown back
to laugh at nothing. No one wore a mask.

I accepted all this as a marvelous
run of coincidence—that is until
I saw you waving from your car.

I looked around but I was alone,
unmistakable in my velvet cloche,
quilted coat and button-sided boots,

and you, beaming like a man who’s spied
a special friend he hasn’t seen for years,
not the woman who was once his wife.

False Memory

My sister is under strict instructions
to relay every detail so I can remember
as if I’m there, instead of here,

wandering Sydney’s Lower North Shore
with a toddler in a pram: the May morning
in St Brigid’s church, the coffin

where my mother lies resplendent
in the fuchsia suit she wore to my wedding,
her better-than-her-own-hair wig,

blue eyes closed, lips shaped to a smile—
she was always smiling—but also closed,
no straight white teeth grazed with Rimmel.

I clearly recall the hymns,
hummed to myself for years afterwards,
in the shower or while vacuuming—different

from what she’d wanted at her funeral.
The choir, not up to Khachaturian’s
‘Theme from Spartacus’,

sings ‘Going Home’. And the flowers!
Irises, of course, and the wreath
that goes into the ground with her—

a small wreath of zinc-white roses
I never saw
but distinctly recall.


These poems are from Audrey Molloy’s debut poetry collection, The Important Things, which is forthcoming in June 2021 and available now for pre-order from The Gallery Press

Audrey Molloy is an Irish poet living in Sydney. Her first collection, The Important Things, is published by The Galley Press (2021) and she is the author of the pamphlet Satyress (Southword Editions, 2020). In 2019 she received the Hennessy Award for Emerging Poetry, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and was runner-up in the Newcastle Poetry Prize. In 2020 she received a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and a Varuna Residential Fellowship. Her work has previously appeared in Meanjin, Overland, Cordite, Rabbit, Southerly, APJ, The Australian and Verity La.