Palm Wine Tapper

Nithy Kasa

It is no woman’s job,
though no one ever said it wasn’t.
You learn it from your father.

– One cutter per tree,
interlock yourself with the prey
by a rope, a gourd
hitched on the hips.

Opposing the caste,
he swarmed the long-necked beauty
right up to its crown,
stepping on the scars,
to pose at the pick,
where working men could see him
cutting.

The incubus of a tree.
He did not fear the eyes,
nor the void life refused to fill,
but leaned against the nothingness,
trusting the rope,
the ring of union.

– Mash the bunched fruits for oil.
Knife the trunk’s neck for sap.
The palm wine tapped,
tangy and breast-milk-like.

The forest would close,
farmers crossed a neighbourhood,
hunters in packs, clowning fishermen.

The tapper crossed alone.
Silent.
He sees all there is to know
up there.

A young girl watching
the men of the village,
I wanted to marry a palm tapper’s son.

Page 27, Poetry Ireland Review 131
131

Poetry Ireland Review 131:

Edited by Colette Bryce

Pride of place in Poetry Ireland Review 131, edited by Colette Bryce, is given to two as-yet-unpublished poems from Eavan Boland's final collection, The Historians, along with ‘Remembering Eavan’, Jody Allen Randolph’s poignant tribute to the poet. The issue also contains new work from Derek Mahon, Leontia Flynn, Harry Clifton, Dairena Ní Chinnéide, and Colm Tóibín, along with the emerging voices of Sree Sen, Nithy Kasa, Audrey Molloy, Padraig Regan, and many others.

The review section includes Maria Johnston examining new work from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin as poet and as Ireland Chair of Poetry: Vona Groarke assessing Deryn Rees-Jones and Jericho Brown; and Julie Morrissy reviewing Jane Clarke, Simon Lewis, and Breda Wall Ryan.

Also included in this issue are six 'pandemic postcards' from Irish poets based in Ireland and in Britain, six different takes on attempting to live the creative and the lockdown life. Other noteworthy contributions include Ben Keatinge's survey of surrealism in Irish poetry, while Alex Pryce's interview with Sinéad Morrissey takes the poet through her back pages, from There Was Fire In Vancouver  to Selected Poems. And John Short's artwork features vivid watercolours of staycation swimming spots within two kilometres of his studio.