Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers' Day Poem and Picture

This poem of mine was part of a series of Ox Mountains poems published in their Carthography anthology by Imagination and Place Press, Lawrence, Kansas, USA, edited by Kelly Barth in February, 2013. Gortakeeran is a mountain-side townland in the parish of Killoran/Coolaney, Co. Sligo.


we turned the peat sods for the last time
not knowing it was for the last time
exposed each soft underside
to grim Atlantic wind,
bleak sunshine, blind rain
stealing in from the west.

Those sods
never made it home
never warmed winter rooms;
ruthless mountain grasses
reclaimed them,
absorbed them back into bog.

Some Sundays he played
the good shepherd
took the week-tied dogs
padding by his bicycle
to the hill country
searched all of Spinc
for his few raddled sheep
found them far up near the horizon,
checked condition
foot-rot, worms, scour,
mortality markers.

He took no-one with him
but I can hear his voice loose and wild
calling the day-out dogs
to attention. Before nightfall he returned,
tied up the hounds again
sat by the fire, dreamed.

I see him now
shrunken, brown, preserved,
smiling his fixed smile
in the face of dire eternity.

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