Poetry by Máire Mhac an tSaoi

maireFÓD AN IMRIS: ARD OIFIG AN PHOIST 1986

Anso, an ea, ’athair, a thosnaigh sé?
Gur dhein strainséirí dínn dá chéile?
Anso and ea?

Fastaím a shílis riamh dár mórchuid cainte –
Fiú nuair aontaíomar leat:

Oidhrí ar eachtra nár aithin bolaith an phúdair
Ná na heagla,
Nár chaith riamh ruchar feirge
Is is lú ná san
A sheas . . .

D’éalaíomar uait thar Pháil na Gaelainne isteach;
B’shin terre guerre ba linn fhéin,
Is chuaigh sé de mhianach an Olltaigh
Ionatsa
Ár lorg a rianadh,
Ár dtabhairt chun tíríochais –
Civilitie Spenser
D’oibrigh irtsa a chluain.

Leanamarna treabhchas na máthar:
Kranz barrghaoitheach na Mumhan;
Ba tusa san seanabhroc stróinsithe,
Scheamhaíl ort ag paca spáinnéar.

Le haois ghnáthaoímar a chéile thar n-ais;
D’fhoghlaimís carthain,
Ach b’éigean fós siúl go haireach;
Do mheabhair agues th’acfainn chirt
Níor thaithigh cúl scéithe;
Comhaos mé féin is an stat,
Is níor chun do thola do cheachtar.

Óigfhear in easnamh, anaithnid, thú, ’athair,
San àit seo –
Ceileann neamart is tuathal an eochair ar m’intinn –
Ach an seanóir a charas le grà duaisiúl,
Cloisim a thuin aduaidh:
An cuimhin leat an t-aitheasc a thugais
Nuair nà raibh faiseanta fós?
Mar seo do ràidhis é:

I see no cause for rejoicing
That Irishmen once again
Are killing other Irishmen
On the streets of Belfast!

TROUBLE SPOT: GENERAL POST OFFICE 1986

Here, father, is this where it started?
Here we became strangers to each other?
Was it here?

You thought most of what we said was nonsense –
Even when we agreed with you:

Inheritors of the event who never knew the smell
Of gunpowder, or of terror,
Who never fired a shot in anger,
Worse yet,
Never stood up to one . . .

We retreated from you into the Pale of Irish;
That was our familiar terre guerre,
And the Ulsterman
In you
Could not follow our tracks
Or tame our barbarism –
Spenser’s civilitie
Had beguiled you.

We took after our mother’s tribe:
The high-blown ways of Munster;
You were the recalcitrant old badger
Run to ground by howling spaniels.

In later years, we tried again;
You learned to be charitable,
But we still had to tread carefully;
Your intelligence and sense of justice
Never practised deception;
I am the same age as the state
And neither turned out as you wished . . .

In this place, father, you are the unknown
Youth who went missing –
Neglect and awkwardness hide the key from my mind –
But I hear now the Northern accent
Of the elder man I loved with hard devotion:
Do you remember the rebuke you delivered
Before it became fashionable?
You spoke thus:

I see no cause for rejoicing
That Irishmen once again
Are killing other Irishmen
On the streets of Belfast!

© 2011, Máire Mhac an tSaoi
From: The Miraculous Parish / An Paróiste Míorúilteach
Publisher: O’Brien Press / Cló Iar-Chonnacht, Dublin, 2011, 978-1-84717-300-3

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