Saturday, March 16, 2013

In Honour of the Day and Beara....

St. Patrick’s Day

Ireland has rubbed off on me..
my shoes are stained with it,
my feet calloused by it,
my body peninsula-shaped,
my voice roughened by the auld songs
my hips creaking in waltz time

These flat feet of mine find
the road to Eyeries in the rain,
and they cling to the boreen
as it winds to the strand where
heart-shaped shells and pebbles,
spiral marked, glisten in the sun.

Then I climb to Gort’n Boulliga,
the graveyard on the hill where I
wipe my feet on the mat during the
Mad Cow scare and pay tribute
to Michael’s parents with
a daffodil on their grave.

(“Why did you do that? Michael asked.
“Somebody has to,” I answered.
“Visiting makes me too lonely,” he said.)
Now it makes me lonely to visit his grave
just two rows down where I leave hydrangeas.

My eyes are Irish now.
shedding tears of grief and wonder.
My arms are Irish arms.
Clasping the arms and shoulders,
of companions who help
me across ravines through
storms, like Battie, the mason, and his wife
Rosarie who can do anything.

“Rosie the Mill” watches from her house
at the crossroads-- Rosie who can instantly
marshal tractors to scare off marauders,
and can dance the night away.

I welcome Denis “Batt” who raised skyscrapers
in New York and returned to build a house
near his mother for his wife Mary.
I have seen the poet, Leanne, change from child
to Fairy Queen whose metaphors
conquered the castle, and I have joked
with Father Sean, singer of vintage songs
and Maggie whose healing hands rubbed
old hurts away.

My appetite changes to an Irish hunger
for potatoes, cabbage, oatmeal.
Rosarie’s sponge cake,
Mary’s apple tart,
mussels and scallops,
goose egg merengue,
Sue’s omelets.

My Irish legs are strengthened by slogging
through the mud, over the stile at the Ardgroom
stone circle where my daughter and I
prayed for our hearts' desires and left
cockle shells as offerings

I linger at Sue’s Retreat, a haven nourishing
the creative process wherever it may be lurking.
My spiritual yearning opens me to words
flowing freely in Yeatsian harmony.
halfway between heaven and earth,
with moonrise in the morning and sunrise at night.
My Irish knees bend at the golden church
under stained glass windows and glorious
stations announced by Father Brick
whose ecumenical voice
welcomed Mormon me as one of the “good
Christian woman on the road to Urhan,”
my face an Irish face
branded with ashes from Fr Brick's hand
on Wednesday after which he
came down on my Irish head
with a blessing. “May you have the
spirit of Christ forever with you.

Now I have an Irish breast, too old
to suckle, but beating with a heart
as strong as any in the village,
beating with dancers
like Denis and Deccie,
patiently teaching me to follow
the Irish way to friendship, loyalty and love.

Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Leesburg, Virginia, USA

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