Winter Solstice

Majella Cullinane
                          The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,
                          Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
                          Under the fading lamp, half dressed – my brain
                          Idling on some compulsive fantasy ...
                                                            – Thomas Kinsella
In the dark I cannot say what the day begins with. The curtains are closed
and dreams still drowse beneath our blankets. There’s the routine
of ablutions, and feeding, of dressing and leaving to get through, before
I can walk Back Beach and breathe the scent of stillness and frost in the air,
pass the young man searching for his future on the tip toe of his shoes,
who neither sees me nor the road ahead. But who am I to say 
as I trot down the hill and around the corner, find it there as it is each time
as if I were expecting it to be parcelled up and delivered
   elsewhere in the night.
Does it take longer for a place to disappear than a person?
There, in the cluster of boat houses, the floating skiffs, the scene
a friend told me once was too perfect, that would be ripe for a murder.
Rather the ghosts of fishermen leaving the small wharf
rowing out to sea, marvelling how the sky changes each day,
how this morning clouds are thickets of orange and mauve echoed 
   in the waters
folding beneath their keels, welcoming the curve of each man’s offering.
Later the women will rinse the dishes, scrub children’s faces,
watch them skip up the gravel road, past Iona Church, to the schoolhouse
where just yesterday I noticed a line of clothes circling in the afternoon wind. 
I too find myself in a bedroom now, the reflection of myself in the window,
only the line of my torso, my arms in a white woollen jumper.
Below me the neighbour’s house; behind that a tree stripped by winter.
I am neither idle nor riveted by my eyes, but at this moment
the letters race to catch each other across the space; the sound 
in my ears is piano keys and the slow stretch of bows against strings. 
It is the day before the shortest day of the year. The sky is grey,
  it has started to rain.
Page 17, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 119
Issue 119

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 119:

Edited by Vona Groarke

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 119 includes new poems by 48 poets including Frank Ormsby, John Kinsella, Rachel Coventry, Aifric Mac Aodha, Gerald Dawe, Alice Miller and Claire Potter. Also included are translations by Richard Begbie and Kirsten Lodge, an essay on Bishop, Lowell, Heaney and Grennan by David McLoghlin, and reviews of Paul Muldoon, Paul Durcan, Sarah Clancy, Medbh McGuckian, Kate Tempest, George the Poet, and many more. The issue also features photography by Hugh O'Conor, Dominic Turner, Sheila McSweeney, Fergus Bourke and John Minihan.