The Diamond Cutter

Caitríona O’Reilly
He cannot calculate what it has done to him, 
his knowledge of the mathematics of indifference 
set going one day out of idleness or mischief. 
If the universe is a struck chord 
then it is deafening, abyssal. It silences all he had thought was his
when he began: what was meant by morning;
what birdsong insisted on; everything that promised 
to turn and shine in shoals, of one mind;
his mother’s hands. Her eyes milky as stones. 
Instead, he turns his face from the world, 
the whole sun-flensed ashpit of it, 
towards his instruments of magnification, his loupe
through which he stares down fathoms of carbon, 
down the depthless clarity of star-sinter, 
a lattice of atoms so tightly packed they vanish. 
He deals in invisibility, like the mystic
inferring his god from the silence of held breath, 
measuring its exact, scintillant outline,
its location on his scale of brilliance. 
He is obsessive about flaws, which he terms inclusions: 
grain lines, fractures, feathers, fingerprints, 
twinning wisps, clouds, knots, needles; 
finding his way is to advance by subtraction, 
that what is lost in weight is gained in light.
Page 121, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 120
Issue 120

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 120:

Edited by Vona Groarke

Vona Groarke's final issue as editor is packed with new poems from leading contemporary poets, including Simon Armitage, Sinéad Morrissey, Colette Bryce, Paul Muldoon, Sean O'Brien and Caitríona O'Reilly. Books reviewed include new work from Derek Mahon, Bernard O'Donoghue, Rita Ann Higgins, Martina Evans, Denise Riley and the 2016 Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo. The centrepiece of the issue is an interview with Paul Muldoon in which the Armagh maestro shares his thoughts on subjects as diverse as public surveillance, the economic down-turn, and the exclamation mark. The cover image is by photographer Justyna Kielbowicz, and the issue also contains award-winning artwork from Sven Sandberg, Aoife Dunne, Jane Rainey, and Michelle Hall. Instead of an editorial, Vona herself answers the questionnaire she put to the contributors of Poetry Ireland Review Issue 118: The Rising Generation.