Saint Catherine of Siena?s Ecstatic Vision of her Bethrothal at Grabhall Bay, Crosshaven, Co. Cork

Pat Cotter

In Grabhall Bay that day
the mist encroached from the sea, briny, opaquing the air.
A smothered shard of glass, worn by the rubbings of sand; the tramplings of crustaceans;
the swirling embraces of the waves, glinting like an eye,
until like a swallow through a cloud, it vanished unexpectedly, midtidings.
With a troop of winged trombonists hovering patiently by his side, Gabriel's feathers fluttered
and sussurated like leaves.
I found myself slightly uneased.
For my matrimonial march the mist parted like a crowd;
the angel trombonists heralded my ste~s;
the horns of Roche's Point and the Inmsfallen boomed heartily out,
while gulls and guillemots
shrieked wildly in celebration.
Not for an iota of eternity
did I doubt my Lover would come, wounds brandished for all to see. When He did arrive I sang my songs:
My Lord Bridegroom's blood is honey to my kisses. From his shredded heart is fashioned my bouquet.
His suffering expression makes me seep with pleasure. His kindness, forgiveness enrich my soul's reflet.
King Solomon himself composed the prayers he would say:
Your love is more beautiful than wine .... Your name is an oil poured out ....
Draw me in your footsteps, let us run ....
I myself was so beautiful and resplendent
Some local girls mistook me for the Blessed Mary. A little boy ran round and round a rock
in some mocking dance until tripping,
he split his head upon the stone,
letting his blood gush out macabrely.
To seal my betrothment, delicately My Lord Bridegroom fitted round
my waiting finger a holy band of covenant; not a band of tarnished silver or tainted gold, but a malleable band of His holy flesh,
sliced since infancy.
The local peasantry was much impressed:
a place of pilgrimage was what they made this place (a beach where little boys peeed in the sea),
where the Blessed Virgin was remembered
to have worn the holy prepuce.
Saint Catherine of Crosshaven Saint Catherine of Grabhall Saint Catherine of Crosshaven Saint Catherine of Siena Siena is more euphonious than Cross haven
but for me Crosshaven is more sacred than Siena.

Page 138, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 29