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.
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)