In A Country Churchyard

Aidan Rooney

We want him to go out on a high note,
said the gravedigger’s eldest son, himself 
a gravedigger. He stood back from the edge,
his right foot on the left lug of a spade. 
White orchids dressed the rug of man-made grass
rolled out over planks laid across the space. 

His father sat fornenst the opened plot
on a stone wall the sun going down lit up.        
It shone on the flowers and warmed the father,
his good cap doffed, his head inclined in rest. 
He’d dug for everyone in the graveyard,
Mad Dog even, and the Hunger Strikers. 

We haven’t told him yet, the son disclosed,
but will when all the fuss is over.
His father’s hair, as the poet’s used to, glowed
in a sudden, sideways burst of sunshine.
Magnesium burning. And would not let up
no matter the light. Or the light dying. 

After tea, the son drove in the digger,
its link-box raised, then tipped, to fill the hole
with shingle from the shoreline of Lough Neagh.
It fell like the wall of a waterfall.
He watched his father through its thinning veil 
get up to get the shovel and the rake.

Page 58, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 117
Issue 117

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 117:

Edited by Vona Groarke

Issue 117 includes new poems from over twenty five poets from Ireland, the UK, the US and elsewhere, along with three new poems by Michael Longley, one of the UK’s foremost contemporary poets. The issue features reviews of more than twenty new poetry collections, including books by Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Claudia Rankine, Louise Gluck, Eavan Boland, Dennis O’Driscoll and Dermot Healy. Interviews include a feature on photographer, Seamus Murphy, about collaborating with musician and poet PJ Harvey and poet Eliza Griswold on separate publications, as well as an interview with Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis by Colette Bryce. Colour plates include photography by Seamus Murphy and artwork by Niamh Flanagan.