Stopping at Our House

Máiride Woods
A boat swings on the painter,
the width of the Slaney swallows the sky and the tide pushes in.
The lip of the sea is sucking the land,
a ripple crawling upriver
where they are taking in the long nets.
Beyond, the round tower notes
the Crimean dead.
Pipe-clayed and polished,
meshed in war,
did they thing about netting the salmon when the moon was dark?
The short time before death
did they see the heron walk upstream the gulls pluck fish from the tide?
The diners dream,
evening creeps with the tide and the boat turns as if ghosts moved it by the jetty
below the last birds beating for home.
Dark as crows,
Or sermons
By Redemptorists
At the World's End. Glided down In our black Sunday voices.
Offended all the light And gingham
Laid out on the lawns.
Can our clean Canadian children With their clear Canadian talk
Ever wash
Their fathers and their mothers
Clean of tar and travel?
We watch them from our windows
Stride into their cars And pass on, clear As water into water The stream ' Into the river.
A daughter said, Examining the screen And the demonstration, The thousands flocked
At that City Hall;
The rifle butt of that man's chin Jabbing, his face
Opened wide to let it out
The black mouth on that Ulsterman. Who yelled:
"Never, never! We are British. We are British, and British
We will stay!"
And those of us -
The ten times ten Irelands Landed here,
What are we now -
Brutish little birds Across this great water?
In a nearly nameless nation?
"Look, a crazy countryful
Of my Daddy and my Mummy,"
A daughter said to the image of us In that grey mirror.
But do they know we are the dead And born again
On the other side
Of these solemn waters.
We sleep
Listening to their voices Washed clean of dangers.
And the consolation of this, In the smoldering grey light; Our admiration at
The great, grey careful birds Lifting this country
Back out of the sea,
Laying us
To crawl,
In its infinite nest of trees.
Page 92, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 28