Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Poem for Saturday

This poem is included in the latest issue of Boyne Berries. It was written in response to numerous arguments in our writers group as to what exactly defined a poem. It was awarded second prize in last year's Goldsmith Poetry Competition. The judge was poet Jean O'Brien who herself won the 2008 Fish International Poetry Award.

What is a Poem?

I remember my cat, caught between the wheels
of the Tubbercurry - Sligo evening goods train
staring at me through spokes, then dying.
I remember my father taking what remained
for burial in the wood. When I got over it,
I searched all week but never found the grave.

I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten. What is the question?

In fact that bit about my father is not true.
I can’t recall my parents’ presence and probably
was alone there, curiously watching, helpless.
Though someone had to open the level crossing
gates. My recollection is that at the time
I was too young for that responsibility.

And my father would have been at work
or if Saturday on the turf bog somewhere
between cutting and stacking. Either that
or at his field of hay near Finnegans.
So maybe it was mother who was gate
watching, saw me, wondered what to say.

I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten. What is the question?

But the grave is certainly a lie. The dead
cat was taken quickly but without ritual,
dumped in the wood which ran from our shed
to the lane by the spring well. The wood -
overgrown with briars, boggy where a drain
refused to drain - my childhood playground.

But had he been there he would have buried
the remains under a cross made from kindling
kept in the shed to coax the range to flame
each morning between October and April
and in a cold year, like that very cold year
in which I was born, well into June.

I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten. What is the question?

Michael Farry

No comments: