Poet John FitzGerald won the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2014 and his debut collection First Cut appeared in 2017. He is the director of information services at Boole Library UCC, which part sponsors the Department of English annual reading series. James O’Sullivan is a poet, publisher and a lecturer in Digital Humanities in the Department of English. “The Holy Ground” comes from his most recent collection, Courting Katie (Salmon, 2017)
Spring’s other gift
is the illusion of youth.
Today, still in recovery, I sit
on the front terrace, a generous
gin in hand, to hear the birds sing
vigorous as fiddlers — and go
with all my senses in the song
of every bird of Ballymichael,
Dunisky, Warrenscourt, Crossmahon,
all the way back to Kilbarry, where
the quick ticking of a wren,
with the insistence
of Mossie Brady’s polite poetic stammer,
The Holy Ground
It greets you like a bookshelf, or the selection
in a sweetshop—Saint Colman keeping a watchful
eye on greedy little boys, and mischievous girls,
reaching for a taste of something sharp and sour—
Black Jacks and Fruit Salads—gobbled all at once,
packed and chewed between watery cheeks.
Joseph guards the western door so children
might not pass with sticky fingers, smudging
the fine limestone from Mallow, the blue
Dalkey granite and Kilkenny marble,
the Belgian slate, and Californian pitchpine.
Here is not a place for unwashed children.
Sailors sang about this oasis, raising anchors,
hoping to find a torn rigging that might send them
for shore with the secrets of their mind piled high.
Vigil is still kept from the hill, but like the shanties,
they have been seen for what they are—the shop fronts
are fading now, and children keep hold of their mothers.