Cow parsley circles the foot
of an Edith blue spruce like so many
flower-girls surrounding a bride.
Not even the rain can dampen them.
The month of shaking clean
the burlap bags is past: July of empty
yesterdays. Upon us: new spuds
plentiful in every trench and hill.
We practice tapping a half-hardy
pumpkin, listening for hollow,
pinching for rot. Heft the rugged
from the field. A soup is simmering.
The many vagueries of light: the sun
and shade and candlelight—fire
in a hearth, and hearts becoming jackdaw,
rook, the growl of tractor crawl.
The drumlin mushrooms thrive
under compost, white as they bulge,
white as August’s wild carrot,
pure as pignut, dropwort, angelica,
while the sea-fog breathes out loud
and Slieve Gullion speaks
the evergreen lilts of legend, and myth,
and crow song in the edgelands.
The farming men are cutting the dead
hedges for the Samhain bonfire—
the bone-fire. For the culling of the old
and the coming of the new, they winnow
the worn and the sick from the herd,
the unwanted bones moaning toward fire—
the stags and empty freemartins,
the non-milkers and the lame.
But six taut udders in Derrynoose escape,
and we can’t speak of the Sídhe
but the Púca is about,
and the old hag on Inishbofin laughs
as four black Aberdeen Angus cows
and two lusty Red Ruby heifers
are swallowed by the thin land
beside the Derrynoose chapel. They low,
Not mule, not ewe,
not brute, nor moon,
but we are beastly wombs
So, with wide hips of great swaying arches,
driven by the scent of gorse
they go where the world as they know it
loses color, but softens,
to where the graves are open and time
stands still, and cattle can slip
like a full moon toward November,
like bonfire smoke between raindrops.
I am remembering
the small things
now that I am
the old woman at the shore,
connected by her roots,
clinging to a rock
and spitting out
The weeds of the abyss,
hang from my neck,
like ancestral rays,
those small things
which pierce and sting
I can see
the falling acorn
crack its shell