Monday, September 1, 2008

Poems on Death and Devotion in Ireland

id’s Well

I see it first from above
through sprigs of fuchsia
tied with bits of tattered,
multicoloured fabric,
a trickle among stones.
Gazing up from the grotto, there’s
Jesus in a frame, and a trio
of Virgin Marys draped
with rosary beads ~
pious, penitent, prayerful.

Over every surface, a collage
of mementos, trinkets, and keepsakes
serving a second life as relics.
A careful clutter of candles and coins,
ribbons and faded flowers,
their once-brilliant colors now fading
to grey.
Headless plastic baby doll, an infant’s
pink onesie
and Hello Kitty, hanging from a string.

Dizzy, bearing witness
to so much life-in-death,
clumsily congealed and scrawled
with grief,
I pay silent homage
to this sacred spring
that gives of itself simply, freely
to all who come near, seeking solace,
just seeking.

Photographs of the dead
look on, lifelike.
as holy water
gurgles from the earth
undergirding everything.

Touching Time
St. Enda’s Church and Cemetery, Inishmore

Around the bend, and there it is –
graveyard among grasslands
As I pedal down the quiet coastal road
low tide has turned the bay to mud,
a broad reach of seaweed
and tidal pools.

Neat rows of Celtic crosses
mark a tidy city of the dead.
But closer now, I see
rising from the turf, the carcass
of a structure –
bones of stone.

Ruins. Ruination.

A narrow, sloping trail leads
around the edge of the ancient church,
down through the generations.

Now I stand
enclosed by four walls,
open to the sky
yet below ground level.
On each side of the narrow chamber,
low, wide bowls accept offerings of rust-encrusted coins
from modern-day pilgrims.

Beyond these walls lie
the ever-growing strata
of bones utilized and then discarded,
returning to earth.
Only the recently departed retain
their identities, names and dates carved into smooth stone.
Beneath them are the rest –
nameless, faceless.
I feel them beckoning.
I am sinking
into the tangled strands
of time.

Photo by Melinda Rothouse.

1 comment:

Chodpa said...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful image of the virgin Mary statues :-)