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Winter Light at Lissadell

Trees are the same
as in my childhood—
oaks, rowans and silver birch.
Winter light is still
shining over water,
bent grass and Knocknarea.

But the people I know are gone.
Purser’s Constance and Eva
stare out from a canvas.
The ghosts of my parents
pick bluebells at Lissadell.

Clouds lift over Ben Bulben.
Other children run across
the great lawns
and through the house,
their cries echo
an earlier splendour.

The light. The weather. Now.



Better I had not seen you
With your webbed feet 
On the street 
Where I grew up.

On a clear January day
You left the Garavogue.
What did you seek?

Better to swim
On the still water, hold
Your own counsel
Or make love to your mate.

Ben Bulben’s shadow
Moves closer to town.

You have no song.
What use your inarticulate 
Wishes? Mine are old
And it is of death
You remind me.

I bring spring flowers
To my parents’ grave
In the old cemetery, Sligo.
The light fades fast
And someone plays
A tin whistle in the street.
I sing my own song.

(Winter Light at Lisadell and Swan are from the forthcoming collection, Heather Island, Salmon Publishing Co.)

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