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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
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PETER STUART-SHEPPARD

 

 

 

peter stuart-sheppardPeter Stuart-Sheppard lives in Toronto and spends some time each year writing in Ballyvaughan, County Clare. His poems have appeared in a variety of journals in Canada and abroad including The Literary Review of Canada, The Stinging Fly, Contemporary Verse 2 and The Antigonish Review. He has Cork connections in his blood: on his mother’s side, murdered Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain, and on his father’s side, an eighteenth-century fugitive sailing from the docks at Cork, smuggled aboard an East India Company ship in a potato sack.

 

 


 

 

 

Éadaoin

 

The kingdom of world passes in days and nights;

I have had more days than I know what to do with.

I have been worth my weight in silver and gold.

I have been pool of water. Fire, air and earth

Turned me to a worm. And the worm became a scarlet fly

The size of a man’s head. Gaze on the stones in my eyes.

Listen to my voice and the music of my wings.

(Pipes, harps and beating bodhráns.) Take my smell for food.

Let what drops from my wings cure you. Sleep to my buzzing.

Let my company nourish you and wake you to danger.

 

And today it is another day.

So it is in days and nights that world passes.

All manner of men and birds turn to face the sun

Keeping company with their hunger.

Forests have been cleared, rivers directed to the sea

And I, fly, blown over snow by the north wind,

Look to light on the garment of a kind man.

(A better respite than rocks of the ocean or thundering ice.)

No dry tapping leaf, nor hill or treetop can hold me in such wind.

Nor will I find happiness until swallowed by a woman and born as her daughter.

 

In days and nights is the world spent.

So I am begotten woman, to be loved, to

Dig your grave, weep over your body, pour

Water on your hands, heal you, sleep with you. No matter,

For tomorrow is another day.

And after clay and gravel and stones have been spread over the land,

Oxen yoked, roads and imperfect causeways built,

After bargains made, games played, and drinks served,

Shift your weapons. Put your arms around me in the centre of my house.

Bear me up through the skylight to the bright people

 

Who see everyone everywhere.

I will return no more to days and nights the world passes.

My daughter and my daughter’s daughter

Will accompany you, and heal,

Their eyes seeing nothing

That their hands cannot embroider.

It will be me; though it is not me.

Shards of mirrorglass in snow.

Know what you dig up one day

Will be filled back in the next.

 

 

 

©2014 Peter Stuart-Sheppard

 

 

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