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The Gearagh.

And four more poems.


The Gearagh


After the deluge,
the wooded river’s
gutting, the people here

gone elsewhere sixty years
and all that’s left
is water—

broad alluvial plain,
medieval ash stumps,
remains of oak, of yew

stopping the wind,
wind prodding water
before the flood retracts,

suctioning holes
big enough
for horses even

to be lost
like a man’s boot
or a glacial forest.


Two grey horses
terribly judgmental
step out of alders,

mud up to the hocks,
eyeing bulbously
with old looks

the chill light, at the end
of the Port Road, asking
as much as possible:

What have YOU
lately drowned
for power?

I don’t know, grey horses.
I don’t know a lot.
The answer is a lot.


Meascán mearaí

in a language
not your own, though
you have felt it—

the ghost of
a diasporic pang.
This land will do that to you.

Slowly, from the east
the oaks grow back,
returning to confuse us.

The Twelve Swans

A dozen swans in the fog, in the anticyclonic
gloom, and the fog’s grey gauze veils
their pale necks above traffic,

the way some stories
obscure the work we’ve done
for brothers,

while others affirm
our labours, the years spent
knitting tunics from bog cotton

only to see them cast
over bird-shapes that become men—
every single grievance numbered.

At the Café des Artistes, 2006

Eighteen months to live—you must
have known it and of course you did.
Hence the Met all day, to see
the Christ with bloodshot eyes,
and the Virgin’s outward facing
nausea, in search of gold,
of lapis and the salmon pink
of the Angel’s pleated dress.
Now dark and frost are tightening
around 1 West 67th Street,
and the wood nymphs,
stained by sixty years’
tobacco, have outlasted
health and youth as usual.
Whatever agonies speak
deep in the marrow, do not
on the surface of this evening.
You have perfected deceit,
the art of looking away
ochre light through Kir Royale,
darkening rosily at the flute’s base,
and the scallops—
never again such perfect scallops!

The Opposite of Ocean

The many blues
the landscape owns—
I want them all.

I want cold melon soda.
I want to be a bride.
To drive cross-country

with men. Make a scrapbook.
I want the fritto misto at
the Gower Seafood Hut.

Attachment, I inhabit
cattywampus, leaking
brain-wise, a dissociative

transatlantic shock;
I hold to nothing, deracinated,
plonked, happily sinking

in the estuarine sediment.
Land-sick, the beach
sways from the knees up;

get me a windowless
interior room, the sewage
smell of ship’s water.

I want actual
dolphins. White horses
made of waves.

I spend entire workdays
into the storm.

A Compendium of Losers

Good people, trust. The aftermath of pirates.
The one who lost “the one that got away.”
Doorless doorframes, Adam and Eve,
the Virgin Mary.
Off-gassing furniture
and most of Sappho’s work.
Also, taxidermy, energy vampires.
Beef jerky.
King Arthur, dreaming ahead of time
how hard it sucks to fail—
we’ve all been there—
taking over the world,
neglecting the marital bed.
Involuntary celibates.
All those who will today
receive a boilerplate rejection note.
Ceremonial magic—it was nothing of the sort,
but poor Eliphas Levi!
And Poor Jud from Oklahoma.
Poor Jimi Heselden, former CEO of Segway.
Poor Rimbaud, for getting shot
and getting cancer
and making us feel sad.
Ubi sunt, the sun, the light
from long-dead stars.
Things that shed—viruses,
geckos, house cats.
The colour pink.
Trees in autumn and in drought.
Substance, sub-atomic particles,
and coal mines.
A pumpkin vine in late October.
Salmon spawning, eaten up by bears.
Every kind of bear. Ice cold rivers. Ice.
All the mothers of small children
who have not washed their hair today.
George Washington’s cherry tree
myth. Christmas Hampers,
bursting with stale crackers,
broken promises of good cheer,
and excelsior. The word hamper,
its incompatible definitions.
The murderer we met that night near White Cross—
his lovely manners.
Six of the seven wonders.
The long-list, all but one.
Dry bones.

KATHERINE MEEHAN is from North Carolina. Her work has appeared at The Kenyon Review, Magma and other journals. She currently lives in Reading and her first collection, Dame Julie Andrews’ Botched Vocal Cord Surgery, is forthcoming from Two Rivers Press.

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