Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inheriting the land

The sadness of emigration is particularly marked at this time of year. An air of  emptiness settles on old country farmhouses; they stand un-stirring in the becalmed, warm and dusty summer afternoons. I thought this aspect of life was in our past ten years ago. Driving through the countryside, I see  too many houses that should be lively with grandchildren playing.
Inheriting The Land.

Here the sea is no more than a sigh in a shell,

conversations speed past, pole high, Dublin to Galway

and music is the wind whistling beneath a door.

Slightness describes Summer's step,

stonework its skies; a little light drips

from its edges but it's falling from a miser's hand.

Across the fields the church, within its necklace

of dead congregations, is a rusty hinge;

a place filled with a century's stillness.

And the ivy-choked trees lean closer together

like old men guessing at each others' words.


If you were to fly over these patchwork hills,

along the hedgerows and through the lightless haggards,

you'd never meet a soul. The old farmers are sitting

in their twilight kitchens, their families standing

on the mantelpiece in the other room that's never used

with faces tanned beneath American skies.

Only the din of crows seeps into that silence;

crows more numerous than leaves on the sycamores,

always bickering, hogging the light,

building their cities, staking their inheritance.

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