Karen J. McDonnell: Four Poems

Biographical Note                  This Little World Launch Speech                 
Contemporary Irish Poetry Index

Turlough
Lineage
New Quay
Shell Gathering

P .

Turlough

A benign pondling straight
from Constable’s studio:

Cattle graze calcific patches
on a summering canvas.

Then rains, in on the Atlantic.
Malevolent down the mountains.

Underground drowns and you
sinkhole in reverse, spewing.

Roads disappear, fields are
islanded. Senselines tangle.

Your water-mischief engulfs
us. We are lost.

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P .

Lineage

His line is in his face.
My fingers trace dark-eyed,
Norman origins.

I close my eyes. In the distance,
mist is drenching a wood.

See a man moving quietly,
neat in leather boots,
peating half-rotted leaves.

He steps off a path known only
to memory and the closed eye.

He tenses the string on the bow.
He leans, stretches, releases.
The arrow hits home.

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P .

New Quay
In 1969 nine children died in the ‘Red Bank’ disaster, New Quay, Co. Clare</sma;;>

Six strange beasts rose up,
still breathing, in the water
where you drowned.

They seemed to be walking;
heads held proud of the sea.
Then a flash of neon green

dispelled impressions
as flippers breached,
harrowing the surface.

Reddened faces, then hands
and wet-suited torsos sucking
up out of the shallows.

Squelching, chatty men
speaking of currents strong
enough to pull buoys under.

You never had a chance,
when adventure turned to disaster,
capsizing every summer.

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P .

Shell Gathering

Coming home from the funeral
we stop in the hot day
for ice-cream at Crusheen.

The sun hammers down.
A day for the beach and shell gathering.
No weather for heat-seeking black.

Out on the Mare Nostrum, an Israeli eye
scans a Gaza beach
where children play football.

A held breath.
A lining up of crosshairs.
Slight pressure on the fingerpad.

The air shivers, but the sea remains calm.
Shells whoosh in, shredding the children.
And their fathers run, to gather them in.

 

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