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D. Walsh Gilbert


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.

Approaching Seventy

I am remembering

the small things

now that I am

the old woman at the shore,


connected by her roots,

an oyster

clinging to a rock

swallowing sea-

water’s brine

and spitting out

slow stories

little words.

The weeds of the abyss,

ripped out,

hang from my neck,

hag hair



like ancestral rays,




those small things

which pierce and sting

and make.

I can see

the falling acorn

crack its shell

and bury.

I can see

how I fit in

the selkie’s

ragged skin.


D. Walsh Gilbert, dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, is the author of Ransom (Grayson Books), Once the Earth had Two Moons (Cerasus Poetry), and imagine the small bones (Grayson Books). Her work has appeared in Gleam, The Lumiere Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and forthcoming, Thimble Literary Magazine, among others. She serves on the board of the non-profit, Riverwood Poetry Series, and as co-editor of Connecticut River Review.


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