Sometimes So Yes
For now, the mirror was stronger
than self-strangeness; arms as white
as snowflakes had become brambly
as plum flowers in the long rainbow.
The unpossessable earth qualified
as grievable: the makings of its moon
harvested the universe; stars are
there, message plus raindrops.
Unusual storms on Saturn
cut a necklace of earth, wave
riddles, essence of day
on the veined water.
Girls collecting leaves
or possibly fire, troll-girls
in ghost-homes form womb-
scapes, women-made afterbirths.
Thinking about the poetry
of the moon, or even its smell,
is, no one is saved if all are not,
all things are full of Jupiter.
The flavour of souls is Mediterranean
with its calm roof, consciousness
from within goes on moulding the face,
we may not be able to name you,
One root in heaven. Lake –graves
and grave-fields of their own
surround the Virgin with the Rosebush
with marigolds for obedience.
The white is a field
before the year warms
in the breathless summer,
is very chaste, miswanting,
Like a hard woman or a hurt one,
the resurrection of stars
when the moon was burnt.
There are no anguished angels,
Or, the present does not exist
for an angel.The copper sky
is a way of saving silver from
the inside, as fields rise up over hills.
In the once where he’d been from,
the shadow of a world turned shallow
peeled the city away from itself
at the seams, with the flip of a wall
Clouds became containers of space,
inflating without any effort,
and home to a series of ruins,
each leaf cut open of even the distant trees.
I seemed to have grown these faint
and unnamed stars-names were the least
of the bruises. Angels do indeed cast
shadows, as clouds allow absence to be present
With or without snow.In the cocoon
of natural eternity,the glossy horizon
reminds us of a sunset, the back view
of a fan.Shapely cloud or moulded wave,
Pearl-coloured bone flower in the final
layer of moon rock. Rain that has crushed
the rose, leaving snow-green shadows
on the yellowest petals. One must see
The light through them, not on them.
Her outer pyramids as silver as the moths
of fact, the house woke up to a sky
done up in pale yellow silk. Ghosts young and old,
threadbare, wingless angels help them rise
weightfully. I allowed myself to blur
her into my mind, with the sunblasted
Jesuses she loved, cinematically blue.
A mountain of tumbled gauze touching
every inch of air. The stars seemed to be
facing elsewhere, the trees seemed to push
the sky further back. Her small heart
Is observed by the worst angels
of our nature, inoculated armies
in a dark crowd. There is shooting over there
in the fog (nothing Irish is simple)
Or polyamorous. I sell my blood
to spacecraft that can turn to look
at earth, at light backscattered towards
its source in the three-storey leaf-shaped
Window. The chemical wedding of sun and moon
cleans the sun’s dark complexion. Her angel
is given black wings like an unsaved
creature. Truck engines revved to mask
the shooting at Yellow Star houses. She wore
a common hue, the violet ribbon was trapped
in the coffin lid: her own wish to be haunted
by occasional , weeping stars.
The body of a man is as superior to a woman’s as the soul is to the body.
Weather is not a girl thing, is it?
Though home is where the weather is,
the weather temporarily absent from notes
I had made from snow-producing weather.
Ours is a textured home, one gardenless,
under a cloth sun, in a well-preached parish.
the moon was shocked at the symbolic spine
of the house, its world upside down of trees.
The light, is never just light:the faint
younger sun is whimsical and flowing
over the secret shape of the city.
Yellow, the least spiritual, the most earthbound
can never have the profound
meaning of bramble, mystic.
You were receiving the Last Sacraments
in oatmeal and water, a morsel of feather
and a single thread of silk, anchored to a hatpin.
while fossils of dragonflies with wing spans
of half a metre were my stories
for the years you were away from me.
Chance is a Black Cat
Those being-in-love summers
(or am I really thinking
of just one night?)
a pint of bitter between us
keeps the hard-up hours tipsy.
Hymen silts the harbour:
we study the ferries and freighters
handsome and flirtatious
in their mutual serenade.
Down at the Devil’s Churn
teenagers dive headlong and surf.
Nightfall is a hum of nothings
from courting honeymooners.
Our first tiff- you insist
the blackbird in the kitchen
can talk- I deny
that such a thing could exist.
And our bickering mellows
till it dawns on me
you don’t mean a blackbird at all
but a ‘mynah’.
Which I must admit is black
as any other bird.
Slips of the tongue
put the heart across us.
We’re both so young
our thoughts seem but branches
of a tree, rooted
under the forever
spell of a loveseat
in a beergarden on whose lawn
a blackbird is conducting
an orchestra of birds
to a passionate climax
as if they were celebrating
our golden anniversary.
But a ripple of thunder
is curdling the heatwave,
a delicate net of slander
is being trawled behind us.
Our own Devil’s Churn is over there
where fate like a black cat
under the elder tree in the corner
steels its claws and peels its eyes
till my hair grows silver with despair.
Medbh McGuckian was born in Belfast where she lives with her family. Her collections of poetry include: The Flower Master (1982), Venus and the Rain (1984), On Ballycastle Beach (1988), Marconi’s Cottage (1992), Captain Lavender (1995), Shelmalier (1998), and Drawing Ballerinas (2001). Her Selected Poems 1978-1994 was published in 1997. Among the prizes she has won are: the British National Poetry Competition, the Cheltenham Award, the Alice Hunt Bartlett prize, the Rooney Prize and the American Ireland Fund Literary Award. She has been Writer-in-Residence at Queen’s University and at the University of Ulster; Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley; and Writer-Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.