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New Hibernia Review 9.3 (2005) 39-49
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Path Through LifeThe barns are stuffed.
The smoke above the world
comes from the burning chaff.
There are those who turn their backs
and those who welcome strangers
with a kiss and a place at the family table.
The beasts shift in their dung.
They sleep on straw, sequestered
in the fog-house of their hibernation.
The birds are busy darting down
to pick what morsels can be found
in the shaved corn meadow:
small crumbs of harvest spillage
or on the harbor wall, sprat-fish.
In the small village of wagging tongues
the old ideas are still the ones
that matter and are learned by heart
so that the living can carry on
and take what comes
on the path through life. [End Page 39]
Once, On Long Island . . .. . . we wept and talked about leaving
and never left.kapka kassabova
Once on Long Island, on a day of leaf-smoke
rising, at the end of an ocean drive,
I came to a house that was like the home
of Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life.
I was among three generations assembled
for an afternoon tea ceremony.
The octogenarian who sat beside me
took me through a long family narrative
that started on the fertile plain
and ancient roads of Slane and Tara.
From the year of her departure
she unlocked a bit portmanteau of recollections
that started with a rooming house in America,
and long avenues with their sidewalks of destiny. [End Page 40]
Boyne TombThey were proud of the wonders
they worked, the Boyne people
who built this mound,
who hauled curb-stone and megalith
up to the higher ground.
This ancient mound was built
on an upland ridge, whereabouts
of the scribe whose hieroglyphic-code
is undecipherable still.
Until short days of advent
when the sun makes tracks
of quite exact illumination,
the souterrain is lit
by bare electric light
by which we see the way ahead
into the chamber of changeable truth
empty like the sepulcher
we saw in Jerusalem. [End Page 41]
According To MatthewFalling sparrows, camels passing
through the eye of a needle.
He speaks in metaphors and riddles.
He is a riddle, the Virgin's Son
who stands to pronounce the blunt one-liners
of the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are . . . Come follow me . . .
In The Gospel According to Matthew,
the version by Pasolini,
Christ the agitator hurries through Galilee
healing the stretcher-borne,
casting away the bread of stone
placed before him in temptation.
Christ in the temple speaks in livid gestures:
upending and taking apart
the tables and tills of the moneylenders.
He sits cross-legged to answer the questions
of potentate and plebeian,
or with a stick writes on the ground,
defends the slut against the crowd
with a handful of words quite clear to everyone. [End Page 42]
DollarsGrandmother never allowed the electric in
because it was that fearful thing
that killed her son in America.
The boy who sent back dollar bills,
who in his stiff white collar
and antique tweeds looked down on us
from the cherry-wood frame,
his place of honor.
Grandmother became a book
of bewilderment after the bad news
appeared in the long-distance telegram,
a message that remained for years
on the big open dresser
with its rows of cups, like commas;
its brimming jugs with rustic scenes
and higher up on the dresser's peaks
she kept the dollars out of reach. [End Page 43]
Museum of Last ThingsWhere the trains stopped
there is a stillness you can watch
in the heat haze and in the snow rain.
It would be easy to say
that this is a place without nature,
but that would be wrong.
There is hair that lived on
when shaved from the head.
Anonymous tresses, braids and bobs
stored in the museum of last things
where nothing is forgotten.
Suitcases without luggage,
spectacle frames in a tangled knot.
A midden of possessions relinquished
like the last strength
of Maximilian Kolbe...