Ballinalacken to Ballyvaughan
County Clare, Western Ireland
I will build a home of rock
from some old famine-empty,
I will pry these stones loose,
and feel the heft of death in them;
and the wind's strong push
up from the Atlantic.
I think I'll keep the hawthorn
growing where the window was,
and sleight-of-shadow clouds
moving on the slopes.
And the fog-footed sky.
My home will hold in this hard limestone,
where reaching roots will find
the water pooled below.
I'll carry sand and seaweed,
for my improbable garden
of honeysuckle, hydrangea,
brilliant in the gray stonescape.
I'll whitewash the walls,
line the windows with blue
like angels' eyes;
and a praising of children
will shout along the limestone slabs.
Originally appeared in The Piedmont Literary Journal.
I will grow old eastward,
wind-wrung in one direction
while the world's winds part,
rise up over rocks,
carve my rough bark with rain,
rest green moss there;
and my bones will grow slender,
sunlight will shadow through them,
gnarled, bent inward, curled,
growing more slenderly
passionately lighter all
in the same
There was a river where I played
while my grandmother,
sitting on a rock,
her thighs solid, knees spread,
fingers delicate enough,
threaded a worm
along the shining hook;
and in one swift intensity
arced line, bait, sky, rock
all in one direction;
leaned into the wind
as though she were
Originally appeared in The Comstock Review.
The Burren, Ireland
I admire the language of limestone, its slow
syllables. The verb to be uttered
in eons. In its shaped runes there grow
grasses, and huddled sheep graze. The stutter
of rapid water sometimes gets lost in a maze
of slow gray fog; sometimes the heavy sky
sings rounds with it; it takes centuries of days
before the last verse echoes. It does not lie,
speaks only in solid rock-like sunwarm tones,
of trees and centuries. It has no words
for malice or hate. Listen. Walking the stone
road through the stone mountains, I have heard
rock-syllables, hushed, where stern in a meadow stands
a slow-voiced dolmen: Time's dialogue with man.
Originally appeared in Atlanta Review.