To Live in a Soft Land

Conaí i dtalamh Séimh


To live in a soft land

Where the ghosts touch you daily

Where the winds tell you how to live

And where the wren nests in your heart

Is by way of the thorn trail.


Listen,

Listen,

There is a black dove in this land

There is a swallow's nest in the old shed holding

All the secrets of a people's tears.

Gulls cry of the sun's sorrow

And the moon's ecstasy sits upon

The lips of the innocent smile of young love.


Sweet days of time

Upon an island

Untethered to the earth

Walk to the place

Where Cú Chulainn sleeps.


Tell me the story of the oak that grows in the nave.

Tell me why the yew still stands where the saint wept.

Tell me of the royalty of the rose; of the lily.


Walk me to the den of the bear

And show me his hieroglyphs.

Show me the valley

Where the last wolf howled

So that I might touch the darkness of truth.


Let me move my body the way the river moves.

Let me hold the tide in my heart awhile so that saltwater

Might make my eyes see the true land.

Open the door to the lake's edge.


Show me how to hold the hand of the aged and vulnerable

So that I might know

How to live,

How to die,

How to breathe,

How to love.


Slow me down to the pace

Of the heron's stillness

So I can see the heaven's embrace

Of a people who hold the gentleness of the whole world. 


(Winning Poem for 2018 Kanturk Poetry Competition)