stone laid upon dry stone

should be no cause for wonder


but the upturned keel of Gallarus

over tamped earth – dry

after a millennium of rain

brings even the garrulous to stillness


mist swirls in through light hatches

high in beehive huts at Skellig

as monkish breath once drifted out

their bones dimpled from graft and heft


on Inis Mór, Meáin, Oir

round rocks tumble into gap

cable, herringbone and moss

stitch dead men’s memories into walls


bone-white fritillary carves Connemara

sieves the wind – more absence than presence

but dare to shift a boundary boulder

and your blood will darken the rock


in Waterford a woman stops to take in

a length of wall an old lover made

his slow stacking, balancing and long looks

part of the landscape now


in Beara a deft stile lies unstepped

green roads shoulder-high with bramble

a moss-filled basin deep-hewn into rock

a bridge arches traffickless



laid upon dry stone

their only lasting mark

on this soft wet land

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No man’s land


my school-friend’s mother’s hall floor

was mined


lacquered in six-monthly layers

polished daily to a liquid sheen

would-be callers teetered on the threshold

only reflections ever crossed the stoop

to swim in the fly-paper varnish shine


her mother banned books from the house

frantic they would smuggle in dust

between their whispering pages

unwanted visitors with dangerous ideas


for some reason I think of Great Aunt Aggie

– boxes of stuff stacked crazily in every corner

slut’s wool slowly gathering on pock-marked tiles

a welcoming pot of soup on the stove

– who died in her hundred and fifth year

in a fall from a cherry tree


Better to be like Aggie

not swimming in my frightened reflection

but hitting the ground hard

fingers outstretched towards

the dangling red tease

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