“St Christina’s Gut” and other poems (series) by Clare McCotter

Saint Teresa’s Heart

 
Claiming it a charism too diamond for the dark
they hung her heart out to dry in a glass globe.
Scraped and chafed with a life story

the walls of its chambers reverberate still.
A girl calling out to another, scratches
gold swallows and nival lilies on woodwork

none can unravel. A mystic with inquisitorial
breath brimming the nape of her neck
etches on stone: he has no body but my own

immaculate and shining in fields of barley
this flesh has flown. A nun crossing
night’s cedar soul, writes on an acre of snow:

O my sisters this I left, leaving only entrails
filled with stars and garnets. An old woman
contemplating a wide geranium sky

pencils in its margins: morning has come
all is light and all are inexorably pierced
peregrine and moons circling earth’s fine tilth.
 
Saint Teresa’s Heart published Abridged 0-39 (March 2015), p. 12.
(Revised since publication)
 

Saint Christina’s Gut

 
Of all the trees my favourite
this sea green turning silver pine
roosting me among the stars
the strength of its scent
sapping the stench
of their flesh and their gold.

Hunched on the top branch
I am a sparrowhawk
female of the species
larger by far than any male.
Today I have fed well
on the prey he could not take.

I, my own cartographer
up here with my book of maps
comping high contours
in charcoal chords.
Under this cape my dewy breasts
swollen with lapis lazuli.

Out at the end of a birch twig
I am an ortolan bunting
my song winding
its way past the sun
a thousand pin pricks of light
bursting from seeds in my craw.

No holy anorexic I gorge
on the tufted heads of thistles
in the lavender fields
in fields of millet
vittles needed navigating night
on my long journey south.

High among incensed rafters
I am a pigeon sunk on the hoops
of my nacreous skirts.
This scavenged gut
a neap tide warm and lapping
the edges of magenta feet.

Saint Christina’s Gut published Abridged 0-37 (July 2014), p. 44.

Saint Joan’s Mirror

 
Pouring over her
like amethysts and water
the voices
tell how she glowed
white and gold
walking with night’s dead
in doublet and hose.

Whispering we know
breast buds bruise
plaits hiss, mirrors sicken
they slip away
in snowdrifting petals
leaving her luminous
in the garden of almonds.

She will put the Dauphin
on the throne
rise the fleur-de-lys
over Orleans
and in male attire still be
their astral child
inviolable in the last pond of sky.
 
Saint Joan’s Mirror published Crannóg 41 (Spring 2016), p. 51.
 

Mary Magdalene’s Foot

 
Pilgrims kiss
the window in this silver shoe
seeking a blessing or cure
from flesh once witched
by the beauty
of a road travelled
with Mary of Bethany and Salomé.

A wanderer then
casting my sandals off before entering
the fields of the forest
the footprint
left beside morning’s stone
a weathered intaglio
washed with wild hyssop and water.

And washing others
on the shores of the black harp sea
I was the starry diviner
the myrrh bearer
in eastern light
my insouciant sapphire heart
freer than any in Samaria or Judea.

Some stormy season
this small window will shatter
returning me
to the holy ground
my fingertips swimming out
to the pines and hawks
my sole firm on the dark mineral earth.

Mary Magdalene’s Foot published A New Ulster 39 (Dec 2015), pp. 15/6.
(Revised substantially since publication)

Julian’s Eyes

 
All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well
Julian of Norwich

She did not drink dark cups from the sores
of the dying, feed the destitute
or found an order. Bernini did not trace

the arc her spine, sculpt her sigh or tease out
the sweetness of her fiery entrails.
In a stormy seaport she saw, that is all.

The remaining years in an anchorite’s cell
spent sounding the depth of her vision
till touching the loveliness of its nacreous floor

she wrote: do not accuse yourself of sin
behovely, it lanterns the stones of your wrath
and of this be sure wrath has no breath

but your own. The father no entity only place
where winds stir the high green grain
and a mare swims across a lake’s sunstone face.

Julian’s Eyes published The Galway Review (January 29 2016).
(Revised since publication)
 

Mechthild’s Tongue

 
Lord, you are my lover, my longing, my flowing stream, my sun, and I am your reflection
Mechthild of Magdeburg

Though they think
the bright wick burning in my dark cave
unfit to proclaim the word

still will I speak
because for you, Lord
I have wept in the school of the night

with you tasted mint
and wild sorrel in the mouths of stones.
I have touched rock

drank wine and wild honey
gulped jasper from the face of the sun.
And other than the bird

divining blue, the fish
breathing aquamarine, I cannot be.
My name written

always outside their book
a Beguine sans rule or vow, cursing
the cathedral clergy

who withholding holy office
withheld little
the night a wounded deer moaned

beside the spring
that is myself and kneeling there to drink
drank molten light.

Mechtild’s Tongue published The Galway Review (January 29 2016).
(Revised since publication)
 

Our Lady of Częstochowa

 
Not one to meet on a dodgy side street
Częstochowa is a hard looking case
round the block more times
than she cares to recall
some claim her canvas a tabletop
painted by Luke the Evangelist.
Carried in a blanket
over wintered fields and lakes
to a village shrine.
Placed there to guide and guard
every man woman child
golden grains and heavy horses
their dancing flocks of white strokes.

Not ones for faffing around
the Hussites hit the ground running
shedding icon blood to sap self
laying low sanctum and soul.
With two deep scars
gullying face eye to jaw
slashing swordsmen
thought her well and truly done for.
Fooled by mossy breasts
and robes of iris fleur-de-lys
they could never have guessed
how well the bitch on the shelf
could handle herself.
Czarny Matka The Black Madonna
Queen of the Heavens
Mother of Earth, Star of the Sea
Hodegetria She Who Shows the Way.

Her right hand pointing at her son.
His straight back at her.
 
Our Lady of Częstochowa published The SHOp 46 & 47 (Autumn 2014)
p. 46.

Clare McCotter

Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in many parts of the world. She won the IHS Dóchas Ireland Haiku Award 2010 and 2011. In 2013 she won The British Tanka Award. She also judged the British Haiku Award 2011 and 2012. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on Belfast born Beatrice Grimshaw’s travel writing and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology 2008, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, Panning For Poems, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stinging Fly, and The Stony Thursday Book. Black Horse Running, her first collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

Disarticulation and other poems by Clare McCotter

“Foraois Bháistí” agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Foraois Bháistí

 
I mbreacsholas na maidine, leagaim uaim an scuab
nuair a aimsím radharc nach bhfacthas cheana
 
ag dealramh ar an mballa: fuinneog úr snoite as solas,
líonta le duilleog-dhamhsa. Múnlaíonn géaga crainn
 
lasmuigh na gathanna gréine d’fhonn cruthanna dubha
a chur ag damhsa ar an mballa fúthu, an duilliúr ina chlúmh
 
tiubh glas, an solas ag síothlú is ag rince tríothu.
Fuinneog dhearmadta ar dhomhain eile atá ann, áit agus am
 
caillte i gcroí na Brasaíle, áit a shamhlaím fear ag breathnú
ar urlár na foraoise, ar an mbreacscáth ann, faoi dhraíocht
 
ag imeartas scáile, dearmad déanta aige ar an léarscáil,
ar an bpár atá ag claochlú ina lámh: bánaithe anois,
 
gan rian pinn air níos mó, gan ach bearna tobann
ag leá amach roimhe. Airíonn sé coiscéim
 
agus breathnaíonn sé siar thar a ghualainn,
mar a bhreathnaímse thar mo ghualainn anois,
 
ach ní fheiceann ceachtar againn éinne.
Níl éinne ann.
 

Rainforest

 
In morning’s piebald light. I set aside my duster
on finding a view I’ve never noticed before
 
surfacing on the wall, a new window, sunlight-snipped,
filled with shadow-twist and leaf-flit. Branches shape
 
the sunlight from outside, sculpting dark forms
and setting them dancing on the wall, green-furred with foliage,
 
light swaying and simmering through. I watch it become
a window to some other world, a time and place forgotten,
 
lost in a Brazilian forest, where I imagine a man stands, gazing
at the forest floor, at the reflected speckle-shadow, enthralled
 
by the play of shade he sees there, and he is forgetting his map,
the parchment that is swiftly transforming in his hand, emptying
 
itself now, until no trace of a pen remains and a sudden void
stretches before him. He hears a footstep and his breath quickens,
 
a gasp, a fast-glance back over his shoulder,
as I glance over my shoulder now, too,
 
but neither of us see anyone.
No one is there.
 

(Don Té a Deir nach bhfuil Gá le Bronntanas i mBliana)

 
Tosaím i gcroí na Samhna. Cíoraim gach seilf,
gach siopa, gach suíomh idirlíon. Caithim laethanta
fada ag cuardach fuinneoga na cathrach ach fós,
ní thagaim ar an bhféirín cuí.
 
Tagann agus imíonn na seachtainí. Táim ar tí
éirí as, in ísle brí, go dtí go ndúisíonn glór na gaoithe
i lár na hoíche mé, freagra na faidhbe aici.
Tabharfaidh mé boladh na báistí duit, a chroí.
 
Meán oíche. Siúlaim síos staighre ar bharraicíní
chun múnlán oighir a leagan ar leac fuinneoige.
Oíche beo le báisteach atá romham,
díle bháistí á scaoileadh sa ghairdín.
 
Amach liom, cosnochta faoin mbáisteach.
Bailíonn braonta na hoíche isteach sa phlaisteach,
seomraí beaga bána ag borradh le huiscí suaite
na spéire tite, dromchla gach ciúb ar crith le scáil
 
na scamall tharstu, agus ina measc, blúirí den spéir
réaltbhreac. Ritheann creatha fuachta tríom agus fillim
ar an tigh, rian coise fliucha fágtha i mo dhiaidh.
Sa reoiteoir, iompóidh an bháisteach ghafa ina hoighear.
 
Cruafaidh scáileanna réalta ann, claochlú ciúin, fuar.
B’fhéidir nach n-inseoidh mé an scéal seo duit riamh.
I ngan fhios duit, ar iarnóin Nollag, b’fhéidir
go líonfaidh mé gloine leis an oighear ar do shon,
 
féirín uaim, cuimhneachán d’oíche nach bhfaca tú,
nuair a d’éalaíos uait, chun braonta agus réalta
a bhailiú duit. I ngloine, sínfidh mé féirín dúbailte
chugat – boladh na báistí agus luas a titime araon.
 
Scaoilfidh mé braon ar bhraon le titim tríot,
báisteach na hoíche ag stealladh ionat, á slogadh
scornach go bolg, titim réaltbhreac tobann.
Bronntanas.
 

(For One who Says that No Gift is Needed this Year)

 
I begin in November, and search every shelf,
every shop, every website. So many afternoons,
spent peering through windows, and still
I can’t find a gift for you.
 
Weeks come, weeks go, and I become glum,
I begin to think that I’ll have to give up. But tonight,
the wind’s voice wakes me and her answer is clear.
I will capture the smell of rain for you, my dear.
 
At midnight, I tiptoe downstairs
to place a plastic tray on the windowsill
and find the night alive with rain,
a flood-fall spinning in the garden.
 
Barefoot, the rain lurching around me, I watch
drops rush into the plastic cubes until all
the small white rooms brim with storm-waters;
between surface reflections of cloud,
 
slivers of a vast dark speckled with stars.
Shivering, I turn back home, drizzling damp
footprints after me. In the freezer,
this captured rain will turn to ice.
 
Stars will harden and take hold in a transformation
both silent and cold. Maybe I won’t tell you.
Maybe on a Christmas afternoon, I’ll just
fill your glass with these ice cubes, a silent gift
 
from me to you, souvenir of a night you never knew,
when I crept out to catch rain and stars and parcel them
in ice for you. When I hand you a glass it’ll be a twin present –
both the scent of rain, and the velocity of a fall.
 
The drops will plunge again, a night-rain
moving inside you, gullet
to gut, a sudden, star-dappled plummet.
A gift.
 
Foraois Bháistí agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa & english translations by the poet
 

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha          as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn          sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.      Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.


	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
	so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock	the door has fallen from its hinges	in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling 	of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties		a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)

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faoi-ghlas-le-doireann-ni-ghriofa-1

“Killruddery” by Helen Harrison

Beneath the elders
Where bumble bees
Lose themselves
In flowering thyme;

I lie down in dew-soaked ease.

And dog-rose is the scent
That makes my spirits rise
In the kingdom of the low –
Flying bird.

I take comfort on the mossy soil;

Last years leaves sweet;
Damp In the wing-tipped breeze,
To ease my mind and soothe
My brow;

In dappled light my speckled thoughts take flight…

And the worm-seeking thrushes
Make a rustling sound
Where life goes on
Underground –

Beneath the earthy mound.

Killruddery is © Helen Harrison

hhHelen Harrison was raised on the Wirral, seven miles from Liverpool, by Irish parents, and has lived most of her adult life in Co Monaghan, Ireland, where she is married with a grown-up daughter. She has had poems published in A New Ulster, North West Words, Mad Swirl, The Galway Review, The Bray Journal, and the Poethead blog. Her first collection of poetry The Last Fire was published during 2015 by Lapwing. Helen has been guest reader read at venues in Ireland including O’Bheal Poetry Readings in Cork, and The White House Readings in Limerick.
 

Links if required:

 

“Self Portrait as She Wolf” and other poems by Breda Wall Ryan

Self Portrait as She Wolf

 
You sheer away from the warm,
many-tailed beast,
spurn the communal dream.
 
Beyond the shelter of pine and fir
you lope across open ground
where cold scalds your lungs,
 
feel a soft-nosed bullet’s kiss,
lick the salt wound clean,
almost drown in a starry bog,
 
but break through its dark mirror,
meet your reflection
in a boutique window on a city street
 
among mannequins in ersatz furs,
the last of your kind,
or the first.
 
Only look back once,
for a silhouette, a hungry scent.
There is still time to re-trace your spoor,
 
answer the tribal howl. Your throat opens
on one long, swooped syllable,
almost a word.
 

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife

 
(Katsushika Hokusai. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, woodcut c.1820.)
 
In the dark my fisherman shapes
me, his girl-diver, to his wants,
tastes his dream-geisha,
inked teeth in her reddened moue,
face nightingale-shit bright,
 
hair a lacquered bowl, camellia-oiled.
I slip from his shingle-hard grip,
sink in the dark undersea with octopi.
I dream Hokusai dreaming me,
a frisson as his paper-thin blade pares
 
deep into woodblock, each of us
picturing jet hair undone,
strands fish-oil glazed root to tip,
a reef-knotted waist-long cascade.
Two days have passed since I bathed;
 
my breasts are sweat-pearled,
ripe with aromas of fruit de mer,
My tentacled one unfurls, his touch
exquisite as the brush of electric eels,
his glossy fingerings on my nape
 
supple as young pine shoots.
The artist’s chisel probes
again and again, sliver by fine sliver
till at last I am dreamed
heartwood, printed in India ink.
 
He hand-tints my skin
while I dream his mouth-filling tongue,
my dream of a thousand years
in colours fleet as this floating world
no fisherman comes near.
 

Woman of the Atlantic Seaboard

 
You might meet her anywhere on the coast:
at Moher she is Rosmari, she walks the high cliffs
away from the busses and tour guides,
her face turned towards the west, sea in her hair;
or at Renvyle where a white carved stone
remembers the unbaptised, as Maighdean Mara,
she keeps vigil where the sea stole
their bones from the shore.
 
Call her Atlantia, she who waits in the lee
of the sea wall at Vigo for the boats to come in.
She looks deep into fishermen’s eyes,
as if eyes can give back what they’ve seen,
a waterlogged husband, brother’s shin bone,
a son’s lobster-trap ribcage to carry home
in a pocket of her yellow oilskin.
Enough for a burial.
 
She is Marinella on Cabo Espichel, Morwenna
in. Among wild women who comb
blueberry barrens in she is Maris,
her fingers long as the sea’s ninth wave,
stained from plucking sharp fruit in sea fog.
Find her on shore where ponies
ride out the surf. Take her home,
give her the stranger’s place at the hearth:
 
she won’t stay. Inland, she adds salt to her bath,
boils potatoes in seawater down to a salt crust.
Feed her dilisk and Carrigeen moss; she can’t help
but return to the waves, to kelp and ozone.
She is Muirghein, born of the sea, the sea
salts her blood. Or call her Thalassa, mother
of Kelpies, Selkies, fin-flippered sea-mammals,
neoprene-skinned fish-hunters, creatures of the tide.
 
All lost to her. the seafarer’s daughter,
sister, mother, wife; on a widow’s walk in ,
scanning the horizon for a floater or a boat.
Meet her on the brink of the ocean, alone, winter
seas in her eyes. Call her by any of her names:
she will turn from you, to the blue nor’wester,
shake brined beads from her hair. She will wait
for her drownlings forever, standing in the salt rain.
 
(from Céide Fields)
 

The Inkling

To the last Neolithic farm woman of Céide Fields
 
That first time it breathed a sigh on your neck,
why did you brush it aside?
You should have taken it into your head.
 
There was still time to build it a shrine,
offer crowberry prayers and top-of-the-milk.
White breath hung over the cattle-pens.
 
You carried on felling and burning,
spread baskets of kelp and sand on the land.
The inkling shivered your spine.
 
Did it come from the ocean?
It lurked in the mizzle, blackened the haws,
wormed down to your worrybone.
 
Years have gone by. The cradles lie empty.
Summer is wetter than winter. Rain
drenches the land. It quenches the sky.
 
Your sleán breaks the earth’s skin,
you drive the blade deep with your foot.
Bogwater wells from the wound.
 
Grass lies down in the fields and drowns,
cattle bawl their hunger pains.
There is only one child in the house.
 
You can’t shake the inkling,
it niggles, raises the back of your hair,
sly and fat as a tick.
 
Barley decays in the ground.
The cow is near dry. You must choose
between calf and child.
 
It is out of your hands.
 

The Snow Woman

 
She was a blow-in then,
the snow a wordless paper sheet,
her footprints the first blunt penstrokes
with everything still to write:
spring planting, barley sheaves,
a bitter crop of stones and chaneys
at the turn of the year.
Windblown crows dropped in
through holes punched in the sky,
gossiped year after year.
She wrote children,
they built the scarecrow in the field.
 
Now she’s a native,
the graveyard peopled with some of her own:
a greyed husband planted these two years,
a girl half-grown,
the rest of her children flown
a thousand miles as the crow
flies from the snow-blind fields,
silent hills shoulder her close,
crows call her name from tall trees.
She has carried the scarecrow into the house.
 

Self Portrait as a She Wolf‘ and other poems published here are © Breda Wall Ryan

Breda-852 (Colour) (1)Breda Wall Ryan grew up on a farm in Co Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has a B.A. in English and Spanish from UCC; a Post-graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and an M.Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006-7 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. Her poems have been published widely in journals in Ireland and internationally, including Skylight 47, Ink Sweat and Tears, Deep Water Literary Journal, And Other Poems, Fish Anthology, Mslexia, The Ofi Press, Orbis, Magma and The Rialto. Her first collection, In a Hare’s Eye, was published by Doire Press in 2015. A Pushcart and Forward nominee, she has won several prizes, most recently the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, 2015.

‘The Goose Tree’ by Moyra Donaldson

The Goose Tree

 
‘There are likewise here many birds called barnacles,
which nature produces in a wonderful manner, out of
her ordinary course.’
-Topographia Hibernia,
Gerald of Wales

 
There are certain trees
whereon shells grow,
white-coloured,
tending to russet.
 
Each shell contains
a little living creature;
like the first line
of a poem, a thing
 
like a lace of silk
delicately woven,
one end of which
is fastened to the shell,
 
and which at the other
feeds into the belly
of a rude mass,
that in time comes
 
to the shape and form
of a bird. When the bird
is perfectly grown,
the shell begins to gape.
 
First lace, then legs,
then all comes forth
until the goose hangs
only by the beak.
 
A short space after,
at full maturity,
it falls into the sea,
where it gathers feathers.
 
Those that fall
onto the land perish
and become nothing.
A blank page.

The Goose Tree is © Moyra Donaldson, from The Goose Tree (Liberties Press, 2014)


download (2)
Moyra Donaldson
The Goose Tree
Liberties Press 2014
 
54 pages.Cover design by Karen Vaughan

download (3)Moyra Donaldson was born and brought up in Co Down and has been described as one of the country’s most distinctive and accomplished writers. She has published four previous collections, Snakeskin Stilettos (1998), Beneath The Ice (2001),The Horse’s Nest (2006) and Miracle Fruit (2010). Her poetry has won a number of awards, including the Allingham Award, the National Women’s Poetry Competition and the Cuirt New Writing Award. She has received four awards from the Arts Council NI, most recently, the Artist Career Enhancement Award.
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(from Liberties Press)