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Irish/Family poems

Notes in Green and Lilac

A cotton floral pinny clung to her Irish country hips When our mamie plunged the fireside poker in hurried twists to plant the spring bulbs, As our tiny fingers scurried splayed to backfill the furrows she made; Sloshed water on, to grow her daffodil; Tulip and Canterbury Bell A Willow to water, mamie knew her soil well. Laid her staple tap-roots down. Dressed the garnish of purple lilacs to our drab-brown furniture; Like us the well-fed rose, bushed and burst its boundary in those make-shift days A curdle of cut red curls stuffed to the milk-bottle vase we tugged mammy's hem. Asked mammy, again, and again, “ When ? When our new baby was due… ? ” “ Due in the daffodils bloom!” She’d say before she slung us out, like cat Among buttery dandelions Tiny tots in the ‘bowl cut’ fringe, and muddied dungaree In the deadly dig to Australia, fearing the imminent leap of a wild kangaroo; Scoffing the string-bed spoils of pod-pea and strawberry ; Cranking up the vinyls That Seventy-Eight to His Master’s Voice, in the dizzy buzz of Rimsky Korsakov's Bumblebee, We flew, free to the notes of Lilac and green © Mary T Duggan

Fireflies: Rosslare to Wexford

We saw them in jittery flicker as we rolled along the tarmacs carpet under the blink of the Irish night eyes Pushing along towards Wexford, As dada drove in his bleary tiredness we picked out the popping effervescence of the fireflies fired up from the country-black hollows while I tried staying awake for dada’s sake, scared of the menacing Cat’s-eye stare their tinder-light flurries transmuted to amber-blue within the headlights glare Dispelled dark’s sedating night, Disappeared like an Irish Mist - Off from the Eve's shenanigans’ - Suffusing within that early skyline jazz. © Mary T Duggan

In Her Shoes

Not the blackened kettle fuming the settle within my Nana's corporation house Nor the tick and tock of those dragging minutes To the hourly boom from that long-cased clock. Not the twice-daily Angelus bell, calling all to prayer. Tolling St. John's minuet, along the Milk Market. Across Luimneach streets To Nana's garden grotto; Or when Nana took her gnashers out And let-loose a flax of grey plaits Muttered to the count of her Rosary to bless her sorry life - Yes, to bless her sorry life ! Nor the glower of the nightlights Sacred Heart When I shared Nana's mite-ridden bed Nor the swirl of spuds in her only tin-bath. Or the twizzle of the Sally rods steeped reed, stained Madonna-blue for a bassinets weave It was that abiding memory of her black-laced shoes, worn in polished pride. These sculpts to her weary feet tip-tapped to her rocking knee on the dried curl of linoleum This quernstone that was her life to grind the grit of adversity - To churn the whey to good butter; To pull in the kneaded dough… To stretch a struggle When the shot shrapnel laboured his walk And beseeched hope lost her soldier-love This young war widow reared three more generations A known wise woman Who brought the babies to birth, and buried so many other sweet loves - A woman who bent her back to glean a harvest Out of each vexing day… Is fodda wuim mo. seanmháthair * *Translation, I miss my grandmother *seanmháthair- (shan-a-WAW-her) © Mary T Duggan

Song of Erse

Mo Chuisle ! Mo Chuisle !* Daughters of daughters Under the Blood Moon - Sad wanderers From heartland and hearth From the Annals of Clonmacnoise And calligraphy of Kells * Mo Chuisle ! Mo Chuisle Daughters of daughters To the crushed culture And mutated tribal tongue Cry like the Selkie* ! Bay as wolverine ! Keen like the Bean Sidhe * For your Gaeltachts* Torn Innisfree ! Mo chuisle !Mo chuisle ! Sip this bitter cup with me… No adorned Aphrodite, A degraded celt queen ! Mo Chuisle ! Mo Chuisle ! Rage… As Iceni, Boudicca And rulers of Erse - Queen Aoife ! Maeve, and Gormlaith ! Warrior women ! Vassals to Alpha State ! In your sacred circle The blue, Dolerite stone, The crushed immortal bones My throne, From that stronghold conquest Mo Chuisle ! Mo Chuisle ! Womb of the world - Daughters of daughters Beneath your Blood Moon Keen the lost diaspora. Your sisters, so far away Across the divide of Irish sea! © Mary T Duggan * Mo Chuisle - Gaelach- My darling (Pronounced - muh-hush-leh) * Book of Kells * Selkie - seal * Bean Sidhe - English - Banshee (pronounced Ban-shee) * Gaeltacht - Gaelic regions. (pronounced Gailtecht)

The Journey

Our journey weaves. Converges, as we travel the same train carriage He sits opposite me as we pass the gloomy plumes of winter When I place my book of Yeats down and give a tired sigh His smile greets me - Recognising a kindred spirit He says, in his strong Dublin accent, “ Sure dats a moitie soigh !” The trill of his brogue, sends me back, sailing homewards On the ferry. The surfing dolphins, slashing that froth-silvered sea He leans in to tell me How he won't be going home this year, And, in the rub of this - How he'll miss his auld fella’s whiskey, As if he actually palms the bark To that redwood forest He muses, the catapult Of flustered bird flight At the breaking step To the twig-straddled ground… And I wanted to be there and share in this atmosphere, Wooed to Yeats and the peace that drops slowly, but in my long leaving, and within my edgy listening Only a foreign tongue unveils that foreign tale as our train pulls into my station's destination As our shared journey derails Within the fist bump,“ Blud, ” To our fast farewell, and I go, Off, into the cold remorseless night. © Mary T Duggan

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