Inish More – by Kate Rogers

 

I try to balance
on the ferry’s bow deck
as we crest waves. Birds
surface —Razor bills,
dark wings accented
with markings like
parings of day moon.
They plunge into troughs,
drag their shadows under.
Cormorants arrow past.
The pier lies down
at my feet like an old dog,
then slinks away
as I climb the hill.
So many walls stacked
from limestone
boundary the island.
On the headland path,
lichen’s mustard
on stone barriers
like headlights in the fog.

Blackberries bramble old
boundaries: tiny pink blooms
tangled among dark fruit,
tart on my tongue.
Rain, more cloud than downpour,
washes off my make up.
Wind scrubs my cheeks
until they sting,
the way my Irish Nana did
when I was small. Eileen Brennan,
who lost her daughter
at a four way stop, her foot
on the brake too late.
I couldn’t check the sex
of the child my womb pushed out
fifteen years ago.
A country with so many
headstones. Inish More
has seven churches
not one roof among them,
slate dark as a squall
bearing down.
Here’s a fresh infant grave.
A wall-eyed teddy bear,
soaked dark brown as an old sponge,
leans its head on the stone.
Older markers are blank,
names erased
by spindrift.

 

 

 

Kate Rogers’ poem “Ode to my period” was shortlisted for the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Elsewhere: a Journal of Place, Voice and Verse, Twin Cities Cinema, Juniper and The Guardian, among other journals. She is based in Hong Kong. Her latest poetry collection is “Out of Place” (Quattro-Aeolus House, Toronto. 2017.)