(Ireland), born in Wicklow, Ireland. She
was educated at Trinity College Dublin,where she wrote a Ph. D. on American
poetry. Her first collection of poems,
The Nowhere Birds was published in
2001. A second collection is nearing
Underneath, her voice is
arrangement, a set of stiff stays
or pegs, well-hammered-in.
She is a house with firm foundations.
Her fabric pulls apart
in the upper floors only,
where something can be heard
fluttering with calculated frailty,
a coquette’s attenuated eyelash
or lace-fringed can-can dress,
a spinning coin dropped
on a polished table,
an ornamental dove trapped
in an attic, beating tired wings.
Her voice has entered every corner of itself.
The boy’s voice is an arrow pointing upwards.
Its flute-notes issue from an instrument
still half a sapling, with green feet in the ground
and a flicker of leaves around its crown.
It has the gothic hollowness of cathedral pipes, a cylindrical sound,
which is the shape a boy’s voice makes
crossing its own vast space.
Although it is the hottest day of the heatwave, clouds
are hauling their sackcloth bellies over volcanoes,
leaving silvery animal
or mineral traces behind.
The liquid will never seep far enough down
to kill that angry flicker in the earth’s throat.
Seams of live fire
like snakes or veins are feeling
the surface. The extinct naturalist with his primitive camera
could tell the whole story with his burnt bones,
only they do not speak.
And this is what I wake up inmornings
where it rains and I have forgotten my name.
What lapses from an eye not quick enough to see
ivy hooking itself to a tree,
how the numb foliage explodes?
i. The River
The coming night breathes an atmosphere
of childhood October in crisp light and wood-smoke,
and the guy ropes
sway in the harbour
while the black river pauses
between two tides,
shaping itself in shadow.
It is never changing, never the samethe
ancient trees of the rookery in silent commune
with the river’s
when we pass, and this time,
an egg-speckled kestrel
bullied by swallows.
A field that was mysteriously full of nothing
once but poisoned sparrows, a convulsive rain,
is brown earth now,
would not disturb
the bubble in a spirit level,
with a manhole like
a navel at its middle.
We wonder how will the river change, escape
development, or work its careless necromancy
on the next ones to come hereand
who will watch its black dreams
shatter into figments
skulled and crossboned in light?
By the campsite, travellers’
greyhounds lick the junk they find
and sniff along a wall sprayed
RELEASE IRA PRISONERS
and further on, HANG THEM ALL.
I pass a line of bollards
stuck with blue stones off the beach
like pins on a pin-cushion.
The theme is blue, or slate-grey
maybe, like the tame sea isits
stones seem banded with blue
like pillows, mollified by
the sucked-in breath of the sea.
Its creamy exhalations
leave them quite unmoved, just bruised
darker by the toppling tide.
I stare, in a slate-grey mood,
pretending nothing’s realer
than the colour of the beachstones’
blueness. Which is less like
blue the further down you go.
I select seven of them,
seven stones totalling home:
a dark one scored with crazy
yellow strokes like fossil grass
or hopscotch on a pavement,
a flat one like a mountainridge
in outline, capped with snow,
one like a mesolithic
axe-head, but more beautiful,
smooth basalt flecked with sequins,
one crossed with mineral lines,
one rock ringed like a planet,
one riddled with reddish specks
the texture of crayon wax.
An ostrich-egg of granite.