Near New Inn, County Galway, 1856

To stay, to go,
Were the thoughts
That summer—
Hot and haze
Fizzing the lining
Of each heart
Was this the last one
They would see here.

Taking stick in hand
He left her
To wander the meadows
His father had cleared
For tillage
And silence.

She watches him fade
Across the bump
Of the top field,
All slunk of apron
And thought tormented:
Would it smell
The same over there,
Would the bread rise right,
What would they do for turf
And talk?

To stay, to go—
His hand on the latch.
That apron could come,
In all its smell
And stain.
That stick
Wouldn’t go astray
Out there,
Nor the parlour lamp
Nor the sacred heart.
Jesus travels well,
I hear.