Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Free Verse--Take One Teaspoon of Tincture of Ireland--National Poetry Month

Sheepdog trials--Bah, ram, ewe!
I have to be up at 4am to take my son to work. "What in tarnation are you doing up this late writing poetry then?" you ask. Well I'll tell you. I intend to come back and go straight back to bed. Because if it's anything like last night, the sonorous snoring of the Hubs will keep me awake much longer than it should. Thus tonight. And thus I'm on my own again. Plus I have lately been inspired by better poetry than I normally write. Plus Poetry month is winding down. That said, here goeth my efforts to define Ireland:

"Come with me, girls," Mum said.
"I need my daughters around me, 
And an adventure to fill me up."
A bus-ride full of old ladies 
Knocking about Ireland,
Buying shamrock key chains and 
Erin go Bragh shirts? Bah! 
Mum--guess where she's from--but isn't she cute?
How would I fit
What I really wished to take
From Eire's shores
Into that infinitesimal time and space? 
A mere ten days, an instant 
To be paid for in careful 
Herding of pennies. 
I hardly thought about it--
Something so un-graspable.
The letter languished 
While I scoffed.
To find oneself suddenly transplanted 
Into a place one has so long
Dreamed of
Though could never make real.
Mum kept at it.
In very fact, she worked to make 
Phantasm a reality.
She must have had her own list
Of necessary souvenirs--
Mainly smiles and wind-swept hair.

Oldest and youngest at Blarney
And suddenly, without a means
Of catching breath
I found myself on Eire's shores
Whisked there as if by fey magics
One minute breathing stale,
I'll-be-here-'til-I-dessicate air 
And the next day?
Blessedly Other.

A two lane road with gorse hedges coming right up to it--everywhere
My soul filled with emerald richness
The scent of sea never far away
I wanted to own it, 
That first breath of cloud laden air, 
That lilt of Gaeltacht,
Lamb stew, and music.
I craved the right to pull it
Into my soul and keep it there,
Burnishing the memory 
Until it shone like polished brass.
An underlying drumbeat,
Heartbeat of aged place.
A day at Muckross Abbey
Not for my soul so much the 
Shopping and choosing and 
Counting of Euros, taxes and customs,
The boarding of a careening bus
At the behest of others 
Exhausted and tense with 
Jockeying questions
Of who am I with them, and why?
From the bus, Murt driving, thankfully
I took hardly a chance to pull it all
Inside and make it my own,
To fill reservoirs with green traceries
On peat bogged pebble.
But had I only known, 
Each encounter added a stone 
To the walls which hedge
My memories of that place.
I would have inhaled
The yeasty laughter,
The creak of aged oaks,
And the pattering of rain.
I had a really hard time getting a pic of a house with the keeper boards on the ends, but they were everywhere. The boards keep the shingles from flying away in the wind.
I now see I must return!
Like a necessary drug, 
I must breathe it in once more.
Perhaps to share, 
But maybe not.
To be dragged hither and to? No.
How can I say 
What things are necessary now
So they'll understand? 
I must seek again the sound of a 
Lonely whistle as painted sheep graze
On far-flung green hills.
Cliffs of Moher--me not jumping
I must savor the age of the stones
In my bones, 
Fill the air with my own drumbeat
And the haunting notes of an old new song.
Find that place to be 
Which hasn't felt the weight 
Of a million other hurrying feet.
Layer upon layer of aching History
Lives cherished and lost to the 
Brazen new world. 
I must tie my own rag
To the whitethorn tree.

Tying one on at a whitethorn tree
I ache for kinship with those who stayed
Who dragged a life 
From the stony soil or the angry sea.
Those who watered that soil 
With their blood
In order to breathe free.
Need to feel, not an interloper, 
But a daughter, long lost
Now returned.
Harder than it looks. The wind blows your breath straight back into you.
My soul must find roots and 
Sing them to life.
I must be in the music. Akin. 
Ancient me at Bunratty (or Mouth of the Raite) Castle
I am your seed, Eire. 
Lap me up and we two
May spread wing together
Take flight o'er peat bog and heath
To be the stones and the light
To be the flowers 
Gripping tightly to cliff-sides,
A safe haven for those without.
Let me help. Let me breathe.
Let me own.
Bid me return, not out of necessity
But from kinship.
The standing stones at Blarney castle
© 2017 by H. Linn Murphy


  1. A beautiful message and some great lines--"My soul must find roots and sing them to life"--Love that!