Poem of the month: Low Lands, High Skies, Salt Water

Each month, I post one of my best poems exclusively to my poetry patrons in Patreon. Among other benefits (more details here), they get the poem 90 days before I release it to the rest of the world.

Today is blog publication day for this poem, first written and posted three months ago, on St Patrick's Day. It's all about Ireland, specifically the south-east corner where I was raised (and where my first novel is partly set): Wexford.

Because of lockdown, I've never been away from home so long and I'm inundated with memories of moments in nature (being locked down in London will do that to a Wexford woman)

I'd also been reading an old poem (51 stanzas long) by twelfth-century poet Eochadh O'Ceirnín, about how Wexford got its Irish name, Loch Gorman. It begins (English translation): King of loughs is this lough in the south, Loch Garman of the famous poets, wide and winding haven of the ships, gathering place of the buoyant boats…

I won't bring you through the 51 verses (!) but the old Irish blas (verbal flavor) helped to inspire my poem below.

I hope you enjoy.

Low Lands, High Skies, Salt Water

The flat waves collapsing near salt marsh.

Mud revealed where the estuary drained.

A single tree's salt-spattered branches,

twigs budding green fingers again.

The boats setting out for the fishing.

The one-legged stance of the crane.

Earth, sea and sky breathe in whispers

of what's passed under

and through

and along.


Out to sea, the billowing rollers.

On the lake edge, a paddling swan.

And close by the back road, the dolmen,

stones from an Ireland long gone.

Even stone sings for only a moment,

next moment finds it’s unsung.

The dolmen stands and remembers

what's passed under

and through

and along.


The grey light over grey grasses

where overnighting otters have lain.

Geese swooping into the rushes.

The spring mist turning to rain.

And the droplets, glistens of dew light,

ornamenting the wordless domain.

Low land, high skies, and flat water

passing under

and through

and along.

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