V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





They'd have handed you a hide sack
and a cow's shoulderblade to shovel with
here, and sentenced you to daily quotas
from the gravel pit or a sod-field
past its prime, or with better luck, to paddling
a dugout down the Boyne where that salmon
and its wisdom was always beyond
the spearhead.  Out of the overseer's eye
you'd be able to pace yourself until
you returned with a boatload of white stone
for enhancing this burial mound's face.
Full of noose-around-the-neck wisecracks,
you'd have been an unwilling toiler,
envying the horse its stamina,
the hare its jagged speed over broken
fields, and bog cotton its deference to wind
on peatlands against blue mountains,
where it crowds white-headed
as ancient peasants herded off the best
grazing, enduring as if they'd do better
as plants hoarding minerals through winter,
hairy prodigals spinning existence from clouds,
from mistfall two days out of three, the odd
shoal of sun drifting across.  If you've come here
for your roots, lay an ear at grazing level,
down where even the sheep-splats
awry on stones are beginning to raise moss,
the level of folk wisdom, where maybe
you'll hear, "Need teaches a plan,"
or "Better to live unknown to the law."

© by Brendan Galvin


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