In Polishing the Evidence, Cecilia McGovern returns in many poems to her roots, as a child involved in the seasonal grind of farm work in Mayo. This closeness to earth is a reminder of the struggle for survival of previous generations, a struggle never referred to directly by anybody, that results for her in an ambivalent relationship with the landscape, reflected in the lines "Close as I'll ever be to saying/ "Go raibh maith agat a Mhaigh Eo". (Dark Interiors). The reticence about the past includes and is partly a consequence of the loss of the Irish language, which only survives in random, mostly angry, expressions of feeling. (The Coothrements). This reticence is an obstacle that must be overcome in order to establish the poet's entitlement to speak about the complexity of relationships, past and present.
Cecilia McGovern was born in
County Mayo and has lived in Dublin all her adult life. Her poems have
been published in The Sunday Tribune and in Poetry Ireland Review and
her work features in anthologies of women's writing. She has twice been
a prize-winner in Poetry Now, Dun Laoghaire International Poetry
Festival. In 2007, she obtained an MA in Creative Writing from the UCD
School of English, Drama and Film.
Beside Lough Lannagh
Petal and leaf dust on familiar paths,
damp heat from hedgerows,
we try to name shrubs and trees,
sure only of the rowan
with its pinnate leaves.
Is it elder or hazel,
honeysuckle or woodbine?
An emigrant most of life,
you call a tall buttercup
The Greater Celandine.
Unused names come to mind
from schoolbook and song
coll, feithle, trom, fuinnseog;
on palate, deep in throat,
the long vowels echo.