to the memory of Mullarkey’s shop, Listrisnane, Bohola, Co. Mayo
Sorrow is where a unit of shop, house
and home have shut – a stronghold clinging
to the bend like a rainbow spanning an ark
from the hills above down to the crossroads.
Mother, steadfast as the Angelus bell
among bags of flour, toffee, tomatoes,
loaves and Indian meal – a concerto
trusted and entrusted in equal measure.
She laughed quietly at tales off the road,
feathers on a fairy tree, magic in names, or
days falling bright and dark as she served and
served with the routine of starlings on a wire.
Father, out all day in the van, filled evenings
with tattle of a squint-eyed lady, calves
straying by the milky way, a lad with
a perfect drop-kick or an old person’s death.
There was splendour in time that hung together
day up and down in a world losing its shape to
funeral parlours and plastic wraps. Their lot
was shared till patrons became consumers and
turned their backs at the corner. The shop shut
and not even a perfect wind can rouse a thing.
From Cill Aodain to Killeeneen
to the blind poet, Anthony Raftery – 1778-1835
Mise Raifteri and file/ I am Raftery the poet.
No house – nothing but a hearthstone remains.
A whitethorn has become Raftery’s bush. Child,
run and tell your teacher before the flame dies.
Old and young on their knees – along lines of
rosary beads – would sing Cill Aodain between
decades to lessen the nausea of weak faith, or
the strut of a red-eyed schoolmaster. His name
is there: Anthony Raftery in The Poet’s Graveyard
in County Galway. Years ago, my father planted
saplings from Cill Aodain in Craughwell and a small
group sang to the vision of the blind bard. They were
respectful as if waiting for tales of his withered eyes,
Taffee’s horse, Mary Hynes, or even a love song from
his hearthstone in Cill Aodain
to his gravestone in Killeeneen.
Terry McDonagh www.t-online.de writes for adults and children. He has held residencies in Europe, Asia and Australia. He has published eight poetry collections, a book of letters, as well as prose and poetry for young people. Translated into Indonesian and German and distributed internationally by Syracuse Uni. Press. His latest children’s story, Michel the Merman, illustrated by Marc Barnes (NZ), was published in Hamburg in autumn 2013. He has just completed, Echolocation, poetry for young people. He lives in Ireland and Hamburg.