THE SPIRIT OF THE MOTHER
How too far, as early as late,
The notch of blue sky shadows her breasts with blue,
Her blouse pinned by a ruby, her proud and pleatless
Dress, the low table bearing common fruit.
No round of body is thinkable
This side of the silhouette,
Hunched, sightless figure,
Bedded-down, full-blown brooder.
Her elbows are lifted, peaked elbow,
Soaring elbow,till her hoisted elbows
Swathe her head, discharged
From a difficult crouch.
With fossil curtains beyond and behind
In a setting of petrified plush,
She is drowsing, dying,
In her ill-timed sleep,
A primitive crust,
Heaving and folding,
In her own spatial pale.
THE FAR FETCHER
Like most uneducated Englishwomen,
I like reading books in the bulk- for whose,
Whose sake? One of those
Interlaced angels I had been taught to detest?
All we have to go on is the words,
The as-it-were outside, trace of the spoken
Before the first sound.
The earth will drift exactly as it pleases,
Natural sun and absence of stars
Saying dawn and meaning twilight,
Bringing into her body a future she knows
She will never have.
She is a thing in slumber, near phantom,
Iceberg in the last stages of decay,
Only the seagull perched on her head
Can feel the hum of her thoughts-
If she would have then
Opened her mouth properly
And told me more.
BLACK STONE MANTELPIECE WITH CHIMNEY CLOCK
How much Sunday there was in the half-
Discarded days- there and there, the flags
Holding themselves ever more high,
Stretching as if acclimatised
To the born landscape.
It had got too late for everything,
The lamp-yellow mirrors each contain
A different emptiness,smooth brown
In the eyes, the time of their first brilliance
Sewn up like the sleeve stumps
Of an armless man.
He makes his saints out of such things,
As if woven of fresh reed behind
This enduring- wide open silver flowers,
Hands that know how to sleep, that lie down
As if made of a single piece after all
That has passed, to rest for centuries
Spread-open, starlike, dried flowers
As if in the wells of a paintbox.
With the lightness of a chime’s voice
She gives her consent to the seasons,
All their violet hues tucked in, as it were,
Like certain evenings,to this calm,
Almost velvetlike air
Which is surely not easily introduced.
Red orifice facing the front,
Its inward carmine a little more yielding,
Will one no longer have to carry
Its heaviness? It was calling, as it had been
Calling throughout the weeks, all the time,
It needed one in order to feel itself.
The things placed upon it add their comments
With all their heart, each in its own way,
But there is still some other object
On the bare mantel, pushed up
Against the white cloth…..
This way it is ghostly, it is still the same
Heaviness place by place, the windows,
Smaller than they were, reduced
And completely in the wrong,
Of this self-willed old city, holding its own,
Between right and left. Hilly, like light music.
© Medbh Mcguckian