Dear Jessie, when I think of us, how young we were! If only...
by Eva Bourke
... we could have just another one or even five minutes of those days,
(but let’s not be greedy), when our hair was blond or red or black and our dresses
were loose and light, six of us or more, a circle of friends in the lamp’s glow
inside a lit-up circle of words, the streets in our small town
wet and dark, the day tasting of rain water and salt.
I’d love just one more of those days that weighed light,
with us arguing about nothing less substantial, nothing
of more consequence than a line in a poem—an obscure or jarring line,
or a word picked up on a street corner, or left behind
in a rumpled bed, an appeal stuck to a mirror, a word
birthed by a clammy sea like a bag of sludge, a word
that took to the air like the colourful kites the kids let fly
on the swamp near your house. We sailed
in that rickety boat of language and you’d be the one setting the sails
with the calm assurance of a mariner.
Jessie, forgive me, in a watery city like Galway
where the sea rises a little each year,
the nautical metaphors are as plentiful as flotsam found on the strand.
I remember your loose-fitting dresses you’d cut out from patterns,
fusible, interfacing, wide trim and flap and single fold,
poplin strewn with flowers, lawn, linen, spotted silk;
there was as much finesse and craft in your dresses
as in the complex patterning of a verse,
and I used to imagine a poem that came easy,
a poem I could live in like a favourite dress, something light and loose.
When I think of you now, so many decades later,
mother of poets, up in your clifftop aerie,
where the cliff face below you is patterned white
with the gentle streaks of bird shit left by world-travelling birds,
I see you walking with your trusted sheepdogs,
more a flock than a pack in this wind-swept precipitous place,
with puffins and kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots for company
as well as the odd fiach dubh, the stern priestly raven,
cruising the thermals or winging it back to his nest of sticks.
Dear Jessie, we owe you a life time's gratitude,
you built your house of poetry with love and persistence over the years,
made from patterns of words, of lines that connect worlds,
a house with room for so many to live in:
welcoming, spacious, airy, light.
Copyright © Eva Bourke, 2021
by Tim Jeanotte
Cuddle dogs look up at you
They read you, cocking their heads to
Let you know they know.
When you reach your hand out
In the dark
A cuddle dog will be there
A warm weight beside you.
Cuddle dogs start out fast
Running rings around you
Then they slow down,
As you’ve had to.
Padding along at your side
Or a little ahead.
Turning and looking
To check you’re still there.
Copyright © Tim Jeanotte, 2021