Mapping the Islands

Fred Johnston

-For Jim Robinson

Out here the language is felt myths fade, easily unveiled
life too transient to meddle in dreams
so each in his own way goes out mapping the islands, remembering what he can: cartographers and priests
share a similar sanctity
a need for infinities - this
is a place where men are artists despite
themselves, poverty flakes away
like flint, revealing a soul
seldom catalogued, the compass
of the heart set towards
a rising sun - from childhood I too have wished to brazen it out
in a currach, hunt the sun-fish
or dream of the capall farraige
But I did not know t,he language
and dreamed only in English -
you map a new land
lay it out fresh as poetry
translate the ignored stones
into memorials - pilgrimage made, the islands are also blessed.


Page 85, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 26