Vox Populi

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Attracta Fahy: Two Poems

I walk 
to my parish,
over the five fairy forts, 
climb church stiles 
that once led believers to Mass. 
Four paths, through fields 
to the 17th century church, 
hidden amongst overgrowth, 
bramble, briar, whitethorn, and clump.
Only faint outlines of stone, hidden in ruin: 
time’s watermark. 
Speaking in silence, walls tell
our history, famine, eviction, 
emigration. TB. 
This parochial fold lived dutifully
despite hard times. Entombed 
in sacred grass, they will us to learn 
their lost history, complete the work,
theirs and ours. 
I imagine turf fires, safety from the cold
of fear and pillage,
recall stories 
of survival and defence.
I walk through what was once barren, 
now fertile fields,
call, invoke the names: Chapel field, 
Back field, Race field. 
Then on, to the road my forefathers
trod to the old school –
the only heat, sods carried each day.
Past the red pump,
once important, decorative now.
I see the clods and marks of cottages 
that once housed people I knew. 
They have left, the storytellers, all dead. 
I call out again to the people
I knew: Raferty, Flanagan
O’Keefe, Hussey, Whynne, Melody...
Picking Potatoes
We walk home from the fields,
our young backs arched, aching,
from spreading slits.
Row after row
we lean over these same furrows,
in autumn,
picking ripe potatoes.
Tired bodies pacing home 
in evening sun,
crimson growing beyond our hill,
little said, unable to say 
the unspeakable, mindful,
waiting for rest.
Rolling limestone walls,
insular, hold a fantasy, 
a world outside
our carpet of green fields.
Security too
in the disipline of work. 
With tasks well done,
we believe in a greater life.
Longing connects us to fields 
beyond our world.
We will grow into what we leave.
Almost home, our tea is waiting.

Attracta Fahy’s collection Dinner in the Fields won the Irish Times Award. She grew up on a farm and now lives in Galway.

Dry stone walls in Ireland (Source: The Helpful Engineer)

4 comments on “Attracta Fahy: Two Poems

  1. Barbara Huntington
    September 30, 2020

    Home of my ancestors, places I would like to wander and connect, now I wait to see if the plague will take those travel retirement dreams. It cannot take my travel through poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      September 30, 2020

      I lived in Ireland when I was young, and grew to love it. You should go when the shutdown is over, Barb.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Barbara Huntington
        September 30, 2020

        I was trying to go to mountains ( Andes and Himalayas) first since I am older than the cut off age generally given for high altitudes. Then I went to Italy with my daughter because of her love of wine. In the interest of this game with age and death, I should probably go to the home of my ancestors next when we can finally travel again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. loranneke
    September 30, 2020

    What a clear, exquisite, moving voice! I didn’t know about her — thank you for that post, Michael!

    Liked by 1 person

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