My mother times the journey to miss mass
in Ennis, Crusheen and Gort. The Morris Minor gleams
through narrow streets of huddled cars
as each town funnels towards a landscape of fewer trees,
hedgerows of alder, ash, whitethorn
yielding to dry-stone walls –
stippled rock reaped from thin-grassed fields.
She is going home,
no longer truly ours;
even the light steals her,
skin a shade darker, intensifying the black
hue of her hair, eyes alive in a scene of nibbling sheep,
rumps marked red, blue;
black and white collies chase-coiled at wire gaps.
She turns to us, huge in her absence,
as though we are supine and she’s falling, falling
towards us. She licks her fingers
to smoothen our hair, our smiles.
Ahead now her home place,
crooked row of evergreens, windbreak to the south-west
of the house; turf rick hunkered, part igloo
home for dogs, rowdy in their yap-yap welcome;
the yard a muddle of hens, geese, cautious cats
sat like camels on windowsills. My mother’s midstride feet
a nanosecond of flight
on her run to the door.
Within, above half-length lace curtains, a puppet show.
Her troupe takes her coat, kiss her, while we wonder
at the pewter patina on midday windows,
split-coal black of roof slates, pup-belly pink
of quoin stones –
light’s precise splendour keeping our mother close
to us, as though it’s our duty to bind ourselves
to the place she loves.