The Mourning (An Muire) – A Poem


Famine Memorial Dublin

My soled feet grow itchy for the west,
for Dublin with its gift of gob and gab
red bricks,
grey mud.

Further West the curlew’s call,
waves, the Atlantic wild
is carving rock.

South, then, the ridges run
to east Limerick, rivered marches
in ancient lowlands which soaked my leathered boots.

Higher up the mountain stags
bell-call, ghosting through forest trees
and wet weathering fogs—
dark, lonesome on famine bogs—
with the thin hungry grass
there still
among the broken empty stones
grained with blood
and memories of bawling
cows whose suffering coffined tired old men
who took their blarting calves to slaughter
while the women churned
the mourning milk into butter to spread
upon the homemade bread.

Winter storm over abandoned cottage beneath Sliabh Coimeálta

Ted McNamara