At the Site
I trim the grass and trample the growth
around the trees we planted,
in the damp earth at Cloncolry.
You are carried away at owning a field
in the heart of a boggy landscape;
a place to read and write and gaze
at the animals, as they graze across fences.
I am used to working the soil and know
all about the hard labour of fighting nature.
I try to control the heavy growth that smothers
the new shrubs, on this one acres that nature
has endowed with moist clay, where the profusion seems never ending.
Returning every few weeks,
I fight back with clippers.
A year later the hedges seem thinner,
the trees show their shapes
as I continue to flatten the growth around them,
ensuring that they breathe and grow
in the wildness of a Leitrim field.
White frost marks
divisions of fields
and gardens of Cloncolry.
Overgrown hedges, thorny,
transform into pillows
or ragged cotton
and tall trees dressed
in shimmering silk
where robins appear
waiting for crumbs
to tall on hardened soil.
By midday, bright sun
into Winter greyness.
Shadows on the wall displayed rabbits ears
from the folded hands of my father and mother
telling stories from the Far East
and African magazines.
They were magic to us then in the fifties.
We collected our pennies
to help the white-robed sisters and brothers,
care for the girls and boys with wondrous eyes,
who lived so far away.
The children of the children we admired,
now walk our city streets,
giving us a golden opportunity
to learn of other cultures,
experience their music, enjoy exotic foods,
new fabrics and designs.
We don’t need to surf the Internet
in our sitting rooms,
to expand our horizons.
Born at Kiltoghert, Co. Leitrim, Mary was reared on a totally self-sufficient organic farm before she moved to Dublin. She has published Perfume of the Soil (1999), The Road to Gowel (Swan Press, 2000) and Walking on Snow (Swan Press, 2010). She has been described as doing with words what her father (who made fishing creels by hand) did with osiers.