Ditch Bouquet, Inis Mór

Samuel Green
      – for Sally
I am hiking west across the karst
toward the old ring fort on the highest
western cliffs a mile & a quarter
away. It’s a grey day: grey skies, a raised
grey sea beyond, grey-feathered birds 
gliding above stone blocks the colour
of petrified smoke like salt licks shaped
by the slow tongues of rain & wind. From 
a long gryke – crack in the limestone –
I pick out crane’s bill with its subtle 
magenta. At the edge of a shallow 
grass bowl comes the blue of harebell,
the purple of tufted vetch. I count seven
shells from sea snails in a clump of eyebright 
thrown up by waves in winter, though it’s two 
hundred sheer feet to the water. Beside a stile 
in a rock wall, the spare blooms of thrift, 
or sea pink, the deep red of hanging fuchsias
with their multiple clappers. There is a gruff
music in the loose slabs of the clint, a grind 
& grunt beneath the feet. Saxifrage, rock breaker, 
must hum a slow version of that to itself.
Across a drainage ditch, the white of meadowsweet –
milk curdler – then a scattering of yellow bedstraw
& loosestrife. Last, in a small bite of meadow 
by the gate that opens to the main path rising 
to the fort is a dazzling of ox-eye daisies 
& a single patch of late-blooming cowslip 
offering its deep yellow cups. Imagine me standing
at a sort of altar in the inner ring of stone
walls raised 4000 years ago on the sea
cliffs. I lay my offering down on the side
that weather does not love, as though 
it matters they were gathered & arranged
from all that racked & ragged grey, as though
I actually picked each flower I named.
Page 67, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 124
Issue 124

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 124:

Edited by Eavan Boland

Poetry Ireland Review 124 contains new poems from Paula Meehan, Ciarán O'Rourke, Lizzy Nichols, Mark Ward, Gabriel Rosenstock, Özgecan Kesici, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and many other compelling voices. Also included is Eilean Ni Chuilleanáin's remembrance of her Cork childhood, excerpted from The Vibrant House: Irish Writing and Domestic Space, a book of essays reviewed in issue 124 by Caitríona O'Reilly. Other books considered in this issue include collections from Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Mark Granier, Tara Bergin, The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets, and the Collected Poems of the late Dennis O'Driscoll, and there's also a short interview with Thomas Kinsella along with an essay on Kinsella as poet and civil servant. Another Kinsella is this issue’s Featured Poet, Alice Kinsella, and all artwork for the issue is supplied by artists associated with the Olivier Cornet Gallery on Great Denmark Street, around the corner from Poetry Ireland.

Available now to purchase online or in all good bookstores.