Fortunate Holiday

Now that the sky is like a sea
with the mist inweaving a rainbow’s lights
shortly before the heart of the night
begins to beat upon the fields
and cancel out the stonechip walls’
black stand, till walls and fields are one –
now that the sky and sea are one
my mind is one as the breath of the day
turns night, and the heart of these Ireland days
turns words, is naturally put into words –

Nana, the sun is golden on a beach
saying I love you. Daughter of a stone hill,
wife to a farmland, slowly widening fieldage,
mother to the far-reaching mercy of man
as he stands in his strength on hills all over the world.
Rock of Clare, grace is about you, as part
of nature as a tree, you have done God’s work,
and now your life rasps among heaven’s children
as branches of your family travel and grow
and stay in touch. Your wit and work are truth
that shines and shines for your four generations.

Father, the rain drives hard over the hills
that drove your life. A fine day, nearing ninety,
the sun springing to life with remembrance, and the warmth
of courtesy to all comers! Father of my children’s
grandmother, farmer of Ireland, burning the stone for lime,
you won your fields back, and offended no man.
And you won your races on the car-less roads,
walking and running; nearer the old Olympics
those races were, in spirit and form, than now.
And you forged your life with the strength you forged your farm –
and your family forges on, and so do you.

Family in whose field our tent’s upheld,
son of the old man, turning the farm like hay,
over and back, like an extraordinary garden –
now your six grown offspring are turning away from
the bumpy acreage handed down the line –
but like the land, that will always harbour cattle,
the family’s work continues to be done.
If the emergence into new leaves is painful
on some of our cousins’ part – sudden, lost or far-flung –
never was there a saner acceptance in parents
than in my wife’s uncle and his hard-working wife.

This is the family I have found in Ireland.
But there are neighbours too, with neighbour hearts,
that gave our holiday more warmth than the sun.
Lucky on these few hills, I have recognised
as my own to come to, the island of West Clare,
the sky around it like sea, the small roads furrowing
their lines, as the lines wind-raised on the West Clare waters,
the lines of the land, that go with the lines of the sea,
the rainbow lines of the sky, and the lines of men.

Share away: