VIEW FROM THE EAST WINDOW
Water, foam and fingered froth
racing in from the Atlantic.
It's never ending;
reaching into caves and coves,
shaping craggy rocks
minute by minute;
Time the master craftsman,
wind and rain the tools,
the sun the carver's hand,
chipping grain by grain
in endless anticipation
of the final shape
that never emerges
and never will till rerstless tides
are stilled and at ease.
You hold such secrets
in your throbbing heart. Your shifting sands
a shroud for many mysteries
until you decide
the time has come to resurrect them.
Flotsam and jetsam
on shores, in rock-pools,
floating on an ebbing tide,
or tangled in fishnets.
Half secrets revealed,
though you retain the key
to cause and effect.
FINDING THE BOG
(For M.P., my cousin and sharer of my name, who showed me the places.)
The donkey tackled, the creeled cart loaded,
spade, pike and sleán, the makings of a fire,
fresh water for the tae, fat bacon, cheese,
brown soda bread, thick and creamy goats milk
my grandmother had milked that morning,
then let the nanny out to graze the long acre.
I asked. The bog, they said, was up beyond
The Cross of the Woods - down to Cregans' Cross
then south along, two miles, to the main road.
You'd best not go, my granny said, the day
is long and you're not used to it. Next year.
But next year never came. Then they were gone.
I found the Cross of the Woods, but no woods,
just a small stand of ash and sycamore.
No nannys grazed the grass, the meadowsweet,
the ferns and the nettles of the long acre.
I found the bog, the moss, the ceannabhán,
the grass that covered my grandfather's bank.
THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL
I found it on your well-worn beads,
the day you drew your last
and I was a child again
sitting on your lap, fascinated
by the images and the shape,
unable to resist the novelty of it.
Stringing your rosary through your cold hands
I looked into your face.
I could have sworn you winked at me
as if to say, "You have it now,
I knew this day would come.
Keep it, my son, to keep you safe."
I've worn it everyday since then.
I think of you and remember
the promise you made, with love.
In 1948 my aunt, a nun in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, brought a medal to my father as a little gift. It was a double medal, hinged at the top and he wore it like a badge on the left lapel of the jacket of his Sunday suit. When I sat on my father's lap I couldn't resist playing with it. Once I asked him if I could have it and he replied that I could have it when he died. When he died many years later the undertaker asked me to go fetch his rosary beads and I found the medal attached to them - like he was keeping his promise.