Is there anything I shouldn't say? Just don't tell her you're a lapsed Catholic, you reply but when your mother asks I can't bring myself to lie. I offer to help in the kitchen. I smile. Later, on the train you decline a segment of my orange. When I can't see a bin for the nest of peel on my lap you place it in your coat pocket. On the platform I walk lighter knowing you offered to carry my discarded rind.
Ciara MacLaverty was born in Belfast, educated on Islay and lives in Glasgow. Her first pamphlet, Seats for landing, was well received in 2005, with ‘Peeled’ chosen for Best Scottish Poems 2006. Ciara attended the Orkney Writers' Course 2015 and was among the 12 poets to write a commemorative poem for Glasgow’s Theatre Royal in the same year. Her poems have appeared in The Scotsman, New Writing Scotland and Gutter. She is currently a mentee in Clydebuilt 2015-16. Her blog about motherhood and writing is at ciaramaclaverty.blogspot.co.uk.Read more about this poet
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2006. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2006 was Janice Galloway.
A very clean and very open poem, thoroughly accessible despite its pith.
In writing this poem, I took two separate autobiographical events and used one as a metaphor for the other. Shortly after meeting my partner, I was eating an orange and looking for a bin for the peel. He took the peel and put it in his pocket until we found a bin. It was a small gesture, yet it carried a resonance of caring that would be echoed in many other moments of support. I used the title 'Peeled' to suggest the inevitable risks of revealing oneself to another, especially in the early days of a relationship.
I used to be part of a poetry discussion group and I remember someone in the group asking if the orange in the poem was symbolic of sectarianism, but that was taking it too far!