Above the vindicating sea, rising whitely
from the kitchen’s cold-handled blessing, her pale
cardigan flaps its green gathering
to every field
her husband remembers, forking windrows of wheat
into dry, neat breasts.
He is ancestor and self in that dust-driven moment
his red face meets
the rude wind.
Alice blue school blouses slapping
at clouds and the church
is white and the water surrounding
tarnishes; her skin is forgiving where the water is
silver and the ruin black as a mask
Above the weaving of their hair a branch is trembled
for a berry
as the wind would in the blond, open
Where is the end room shuttered with indigo
From this throne of vernal conceit, milk cold
and bloated, bearing the fallen
spears of pine,
spines upon spines sprite green up above
the rust and mossy stream and insect
Dear Mary, soon-to-be-forsaken, Protestant-fingered
wife, provider for the children, proceeds
from the yellow door
of the new kitchen to the tiled hall. Her blind Jack Russell,
sausage pampered, rodent wristed, bounces widely
at a sensation of sullen sunlight among the fuscia, spins
with the grin and abandon of the closely protected.
The green-glassed porch remains narrowly open--
but only to Jack.
A fire is lit in the television room.
Down the long hall, bending to the convalescent
slope of the piebald
hill, she sweeps out each stale
fire, sending anemic wisps into a wind
frantic for the sea.
Leam of light draw near
the writhing in their salmon bodies
at the cloven
rock, lichened and forever keening, steaming,
kneeling, beaded wet and aubergine; screens of golden
leaf set glowing
the wooly sheep pounding nowhere
up the clover.
That last light steels
the partitioned windows of Johnny Byrne’s
Coach & Four and the contiguous stone chapel
up to its cloistered window and the priest’s
residence where Father Mahon once slept
for two weeks without a mattress, for he
was a just man, a generous man--not like this new
cleric, trained in England.
-God help us. Imagine a theatrical society in Cullenglen.
-As if we hadn’t enough nonsense--and especially with
the youth now--
-Well, one can see why the church is having her difficulties.
It all started with that Vatican II.
-I suppose he’ll next be wanting to do away with the Blessed
-God help us.
Dissembler, cast a furtive stance this side of the glass
in the hollow
bellied banqueting room: the powder of ash breaking
upon the grating, the brown bindings
and green bindings of the mildewing authors, the long,
impaled upon the papered wall, the palest and finest
portrait of Catherine O’Reilly--Do you
take this fair Aisling--I do, I do--as the light moves,
abandoning her again to the contemplative
twilight of 1914.
Cygnets amplify the sable and viridian,
insignia of faith, for the fading
shall not be forgotten, not here. This night
they awaken to the ripple of Niamh’s
mirror. Here is the bright field
of their gathering, and the shrill
of the silence is the sound of their chorus,
the memory of an intonation, the little whistles
and green stories, the prayers we repeat
in the gethsemane of our hearts.
Twin cygnets, darlings of the water darkling,
what do you know beyond the reflection
of the low stone bridge--
© 2000 Fammerée
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“Eulogia” appears in Lessons of Water & Thirst,
a book of poems by Richard Fammerée.
* * * * *
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