Deborah L. Humphreys

oíche shamhna and the morning after

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for bernice

before ourselves

if we can imagine


as the former occupants

in a scatter of white and stucco

had time before them

stretched out, the uncut green

the unshaved brown, bog and moin


mar atá, mar a bhí

is the memory of the seven

days of a quick and patient god

who leaves us in the choosing

            spirals, knots and our living

            tosnú is criochnú

            lá fheile, lá eile, as the shapes

sighs and cuts, low and deep as the pulling

waves of sinsear. oh, we invite them back

            with seasonal regularity

            to our parties

            the end of the gatherings

            and they come


            curious beyond measure

about our how sean is sean-nos?

the debates that heat our days

            lig ar scith with so many words

            cleas é, the old neighbors think better

of turning the skins of trees into reams

of white sheets with strange markings or

white sheets over little children

            our ways of keeping

            watch, reverence for the unseen

and signed contract for the just born

            fáinne an bhliain


1 Samhna 2002