The Irish Times: Poem of the week: ‘When‘ by John O’Donnell

When    John O’Donnell

 

 
And when this ends we will emerge, shyly
and then all at once, dazed, longhaired as we embrace
loved ones the shadow spared, and weep for those
it gathered in its shroud. A kind of rapture, this longed-for
laying on of hands, high cries as we nuzzle, leaning in
to kiss, and whisper that now things will be different,
although a time will come when we’ll forget
the curve’s approaching wave, the hiss and sigh
of ventilators, the crowded, makeshift morgues;
a time when we may even miss the old-world
arm’s-length courtesy, small kindnesses left on doorsteps,
the drifting, idle days, and nights when we flung open
all the windows to arias in the darkness, our voices
reaching out, holding each other till this passes.

 

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photo Rose Cook

‘Sightings’ a new book of poems from Rose Cook

 

The secret of life, of a happy life, is: leave a little space open for poetry… Massimo Bottura

 

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I am very happy to announce a new, slim volume of poems

Sightings: Rose Cook published by Grey Hen Press

                available from Rose Cook or email info@greyhenpress.com         £4 plus p&p

 

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Here are poems “bright as Lord Krishna’s hair’ that take great joy and delight in the wild-life of sea and shore. In an age of cynicism and depression over climate change these poems are a pure celebration of nature; to quote a line from her poem about building a stone wall, they are like “the heartings” that brim with “tumble and lustre”. A truly uplifting collection.

Gill McEvoy (Rise pub Cinnamon Press)

There are poems here delightfully willing to see through the eyes of the creatures involved – whales, dogs, seals, fish, birds – while the human element is aware of itself as the inevitable record of vision.

And there are poems here which speak directly to the hidden in all of us; losses which remain on the inside brought to sight/light by Cook`s tender language and deft crafting.

With the ‘white sheets’ on the washing line, Cook surrenders to sight, while that ‘single red shirt’ acts as a warning: Look out. And up, and everywhere, all the time, because it`s a good thing. Because it helps.

Sandra Tappenden (Speed pub Salt Modern Poets)

 

The Bird Taggers

The Bird Taggers

 

Down by the ley at dusk,

people are working softly.

In the reeds, they have strung a net

from poles, several pluck small birds

from the netting. They carry white bags

into which they place the birds in pairs

for company. These people work swiftly,

talk in low voices. The reed banks hum

with the sound of settling birds.

 

One man comes to explain, how they ring the legs,

track the birds’ flight, to protect feeding grounds,

nest sites. He shows us a young swallow.

It lies meek in his hand, relaxed as a sleeping mouse.

His voice is sure, this is heart work, for the future.

Several white bags hang silently from his belt.

He says not to worry, they have nest boxes.

Once in the dark boxes they will be calm

and in the morning, released.

Soon the birds will fly to Spain, to Africa.

 

from Taking Flight Rose Cook

 

The year turns…

The Year

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 18501919

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.

 

photo Rose Cook