Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Rathlin Island

The merest headflick is effusive greeting.
Stoic faces carved by wind and tide.
O’er the heather, windswept lambs are bleating.
O’er the sound, the mainland stretches wide.

Eyeless houses stare down to the pier.
Rope lays coiled beside a peeling wall.
O’er the hill, the old light, bright and clear,
Proudly bathes the island’s purple shawl.

Mist rolls in like one grey canvas awning.
A stout man hauls an old boat up the beach.
The harbour will be quiet until morning,
Save for just an errant seagull’s screech.

No lights gleam from the mainland. No stars glisten.
The crashing sea, the island’s rasping breath.
Old men cock their heads aside to listen.
Women fear the grasping hand of death.

Capel Island, county Cork

A stump. That’s all there is. No more.
A nippled breast that rises
From the fathomless domains,
While loud gulls in many sizes
Skim like paper aeroplanes.
A stump. That’s all there is. From shore,
She bears her breastbone proudly,
Unabashed and unashamed,
While around her, waves crash loudly
As the sky becomes inflamed.
A stump.
That’s all there is.
No more.
All that exists on Capel Island is the unfinished trunk of a lighthouse abandoned in the 1840s


Shafts of sunlight
Stream out from behind grubby clouds
Rubbing the sea.
The grey rippling plate
Holds steady
As the sun sets to work,
Polishing, polishing,
Till it gleams.