The Blue Hare
Stepping off the path,
a silver car rushes by.
I never saw it coming,
yet I felt the ground give way.
I knelt down within myself.
The hare that lives in my mind,
snug in her thick coat and
safe in her wide-open eyes,
breaks free and runs across me.
She purrs, sniffs my body,
looks up, pisses and moves on.
So it happens that I am reborn
into my warm russet fur and strong legs.
Mountain hare, white hare,
Irish hare, blue hare.
Many names, one thumping spirit.
A hare will not move until it has to,
stillness and camouflage its defence,
safe in its form of flattened earth.
What does it mean to be free?
Hare breath touching the ribs.
Watching everything going still,
galloping through swirls of thyme,
sedge and gorse.
An Giorria Gorm
Faoi choiscéim den teach
tiomáineann carr gheal faoi dheifir.
Ní fhaca mé ag teacht é,
ach baineadh croitheadh as an talún.
Téim síos ar mo ghlúine
i mo chroí istigh.
An giorria a mhaireann i m’intinn,
soiprithe ina cóta tiubh agus
sábháilte ina súile lonracha,
scaoileann sí saor agus ritheann sí tharam.
Crónaíonn sí, bolaíonn sí mo chorp,
breathnaíonn sí suas, múnann sí
agus bogann sí ar aghaidh.
Athbheirthe isteach i m’fhionnadh
donnrua te agus mo chosa láidre.
Giorria sléibhe, giorria bán,
giorria Éireannach, giorria gorm,
anam fuadach amháin.
Anáil ghiorria, lámh ar na heasnacha
ag fanacht go socair, cosa in airde
trí guairneán cuilithe de tím chreige,
clab chumhra agus aiteann.
The Wolves of Chernobyl
Silent and spectral, the wolves of Chernobyl now eat fruit and herbs.
They chomp down with their meat cleaver mouths on black night-shade.
They enjoy its bitter taste after the juicy haunch of a deer.
Breathless from the speed of the hunt,
they barely notice the stubborn old women who refuse to leave.
The women now make Cherry Vodka for Christmas in a radio-active forest.
Scientists tracked one wolf leaving the exclusion zone.
Its GPS collar broadcasted its last location,
before the battery died.
Then the wolf vanished from the map with a beep.
I dream of it still, eating foxberries and crab apples.
It seems unaware of the heritage it carries,
as it walks towards us with its cunning smile.
Yet, I welcome him warmly because he has endured.
Field Notes – If Grief Were a Mammal
If grief were a mammal, its eyes would be large and hungry, like a bear at the end of Winter. It would often be hunted and fearful and because of this, it could turn on you in an instant. Its fur would not be sleek but tired and ragged.
On Summer days, it would swim beside you in the lake, shy and curious, gulping water in its broad muzzle. It would be self-aware because of a neocortex full of tricks – singing, scent-marking and using tools. The bones in its inner ear would transmit sound vibrations, so it would be able to hear the memories you would whisper. A single-boned lower jaw would give it a powerful bite, allowing it to cut and grind.
Oxygen-rich blood in its four-chambered heart would keep it strong. It would have breasts heavy with milk but no offspring to feed. This would cause you to write in your notebook with an exclamation mark – mammal from the Latin “mamma” meaning breast! How cruel is nature.
With its ursine warmth, grief would mostly be nocturnal. Street lights would let you admire the play of light and dark on its coat. Without you knowing, it would stalk you for a long time. It would smell you in the wind. It would have vulpine intelligence, feline agility and lupine strangeness. It would come to recognise you, even from a great distance. It would run to you, as soon as you approach. Hunger could be part of this apparent affection. No animal could ever be more faithful or devoted.
The Blue Hare (An Giorria Gorm) and other poems are © Jackie Gorman
Jackie Gorman has been published in a number of journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The Lonely Crowd and The Honest Ulsterman. She was part of the 2017 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and won the 2017 Listowel Writers’ Week Single Poem Award and was commended in the Irish Poem of the Year Award at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards in the same year. She recently completed a Masters in Poetry Studies at Dublin City University. Her first collection was published by the UK poetry publisher The Onslaught Press in May 2019.