Grieving in May | 3.

The last one, and perhaps the one that hurts the most; my younger sister and one of my best friends ever. Thank you for reading these poems; For me, May is time set aside for remembrance.

FRANCES

Here I will rest

My ashes falling

Into swirls of bog-brown water

In Spring perhaps

The river quiet

And the birds gone mad

My ghost will hover –

A shape in powdered white

Casting chills on my attendants

Willows hang their leaves

Across the rush of water

Such an airy, fragile green

And I think of you –

Your airy, fragile spirit

Gone out of turn before me

Our childhood memories

All lop-sided now

A pulse of anger yet –

Why aren’t you here!

You should be here!

The mystery of your absence

Plagues me

I kneel beside your grave

Bend low to sense your soul

Breathe in the smell of earth.

ÉALÚ BINN | SWEET ESCAPE from Minus One

When I was a girl, a long time ago, most people had very strict parents, and I remember so well, the feeling of being squashed and kept down – it was just how things were then. Every Summer, we went to an Irish College in Donegal. The first time I went, I was fourteen, I fell in love with everything about those holidays, and Donegal is still my favourite place.

Wet Sunday afternoons

Micheál Ó hEithir full-voiced

My father leaned to hear

Forbidding us to talk

We kept our heads down

Read our Enid Blytons

Visits to relations

Sit straight with ankles neat

Weak tea, not quite hot

Men who would be jolly

Women with their blouses

Buttoned to the nose

Restless, teenage years

Stultified, depressed

Hemmed in by the iron will

Of parents bent on purity

Chips at the harbour wall

A mortal sin

But ah – August in The Rosses

Let loose among na buachaillí*

Blood-red cheeks and sparkling eyes

Mascara thick and black

And lipstick for the céilí –

Bhí gaeilge fíor mhaith againn!**

     *the boys

**We were very good at Irish!

“My Sorrow” from Minus One

So now I know and

Must accept my fate

The sear of ice is

Burning in my breast

I have tried to quench it

With the gasping taste

Of whiskey

With new distractions

I have tried to warm

My blood

Suicide wouldn’t suit me

I fear the gaping hole

Of hell

But ah, to be old and

Mindless

My wretched mouth

All gums and grins

The ice dissolved at last

In drools and dribbles.

LANDSCAPES from Minus One

1.Tied by mortal feet

to an inland place,

I would be one of

Lir’s unhappy swans

blown across the wintry

straits of Moyle

This bland wind has

no taste, no smell.

It sweeps down fiercely

from the hills

and knocks the heads

off blooms already dead.

2. Heedless of the

grey, polluted air

the whins blazed.

I gazed and saw them

shine above the singing

northern sands.

Some bastard

burned them down.

The skinny twigs are twisted

black and crumbling.

Street-locked and bereft

I am left to suffocate.

If This is a Man | A poem by Primo Levi

This poem is printed at the beginning of Levi’s book, “If This is a Man | The Truce”, which is a truly wonderful book. I re-read it recently and felt I had to share the poem.

You who live safe

In your warm houses,

You who find, returning in the evening,

Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider if this is a man

Who works in the mud

Who does not know peace

Who fights for a scrap of bread

Who dies because of a yes or a no,

Consider if this is a woman,

Without hair and without name

With no more strength to remember,

Her eyes empty and her womb cold

Like a frog in winter.

Meditated that this came about:

I commend these words to you.

Carve them in your hearts

At home, in the street,

Going to bed, rising;

Repeat them to your children.

Or, may your house call apart,

May illness impede you,

May your children turn their faces from you.