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The Picture in Ireland.


In the beginning was the bird on the hinge of spring,
and the misting flocks on the knoll’s wet chin
fled from the fox with his shot and gun. It was morning:
we sang up the sun with the Sunday hum-and-hymn

of Mam chiming down that patchwork land. Through
the nocturne town and far, past the blackthorn bowed to
prayer and vows that wilted in the air, the city threw
its lights on you. In the darkest heart of Belfast it was 1972.

That dawn of last and longest death, we woke the eyelid
of the day and laid the dark to rest. I remember, kid, the wind
blew like a passing breath and in that way it always did
the forest sang beneath your step. And in the sooner-far ahead,

the meadows fled away from where the dark things slept.
With Dad’s flat cap upon your head, coughing back a cigarette
whose end you never met, you ran a mile electric with the planets
in your eyes. You drew the bows of playground boys while I, yes,

the star that fell behind, shook and sweated lemons at the sin
of passing church. You never cared for that. You never tipped
your hat. You laughed and cursed and spat the cleric’s
sermons to the last, and that was that. Always just good craic.

But at the blast, beneath the drums of Carthage all the stars
unhinged and fled. And you, kid, who leapt the fire-heart ahead
left only scraps of wind to gasp the passing of your death.
For in your last and loudest steps the decades fled beneath your legs

and past the chapel-arch ahead, a diadem upon your head,
you raised a weeping rag and red. You warned the living of the dead.
And said that prayer you’d never said, but it was lost instead.
And in those gobbet-drops of flesh wept Our Lady overhead.

I waved and mouthed a broken vowel which you would never see.
And saw you in the longest light, where you will always be.

Laura Potts lives in West Yorkshire. Twice-named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her work has appeared in Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Interpreter’s House. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year shortlisted in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew aired at Christmas 2017, and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018. Her poem ‘The Wild Child’ was published in The Fortnightly Review in March 2018.

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Gabriel Bruen
Gabriel Bruen
3 years ago

Well crafted and sad foreboding memories of Belfast before all hell erupted. The physical distance from the city seen from the enjoyment of nature in the high hills is lyrical; the intellectual/spiritual distance of the daughter from ‘the Sunday hum- and-hymn’ routine is expressed with a pathos and prescience.

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