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DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS 47 DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS PADDY BUSHE REHEARSING “RIDERS TO THE SEA” in memory of Tom Murphy It was, you insisted, only after the everyday business of baking bread and sweeping floors was given due weight, that the poetry could flow. The stitches must be in place before the pattern could nd itself. How, except through the ordinary discoveries of each day’s rehearsal, could we rise it to the nal “we must be satis ed”? Around your hospital bed, nobody knew the words, much less how to say them. We could only recall our different days and bless your changed body, strained and urgent as a ghost galloping to the shore. Your everydays are over. Rise it now. ❧ STAIGUE The roundness of stone echoes the circle of the wall echoing the ring of mountains DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS 48 around the fort at Staigue. Apart from the wind and nearby farmsounds here is a structuring of silence. Massive lintels still hold open the entrance but the interior yields no names, no stories. The steps which led to ritual or defense zigzag up and down in blank symmetry. Seen through a strategic gap between the hills the sea today betrays no sign of invaders. If there is battlenoise shieldclashes, wallscalings, the echoes are contained deep inside our heads. If there’s to be a story built around this fort we’ll have to enter it through our own telling. All of this is constantly overlooked by the pair of ravens circling away above our heads. DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS 49 CHURCH ISLAND The harmony of the small ruined church remains like deconstructed musical instruments in paintings. Its east to west axis is a string played from the altar window to the Roman doorway. Between the roofless nave and chancel, the imagined mediation of an arch rests on its broken pillars where carved sitting snug (always one who will refuse to go!) a stone ddler is playing away by the new time. God knows his friends and relations probably spread themselves over the arch, making for an almighty session. Blank-faced, intent on music he has for centuries repeated his noble call to make the stone sing. His music is the constant plainsong of water graced by matins, lauds and nones of larks. DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS 50 CEALLÚNACH These blank and scattered headstones spell out a gospel of rejection. Here among the vestiges of an Early Christian site numbed hands gleaned comfort in gathering the stones of a crumbling oratory to mark the graves of infants, dead without the words and incense and sprinkling of salvation. This was their limbo, a furtive alliance with suicides and the odd drowned, dark sailor. Against whom the Fathers sitting in gravest council locked the huge gates of their high, new Church. It should now be known among these outcast bones that this ceallúnach is just an anachronism, DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS 51 because the robed men gathering again in conclave pronounced that their Church had changed her mind. Yet here still, Fathers, read the stone letters, although your hard words were written on water! ❧ HIGH TIDE for my mother at seventy When he married a woman from the mountain, my father says, he married the mountain too. I trace connections also with rock and cliff, with the sand whispering always of beginnings, with the sea above all, singing beyond herself. I came to this shore storied with her barnacles, bright with the lightning of her shoals, bearing in deep trust the echoes of her whale-song. The encircling mountains voice her name to shells contemplating their whorled in nities. Burnished seaweed offers droplets to the sun and rockpools delight in the amazement of stars. From the waves rolling in a high tide, a sussurration of pebbles, murmurings of love. DÁNTA ÚRA: NEW POEMS 52 SCEILG CYCLE dawn was stone at rst with no escape from the oppression of cells. Outside light struggled to penetrate the hard slate of sea and rock and failed to nd the relief carvings on the high cross whose arms stretched wide and black over the...


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