Back from a walk on the cliffs, I tug on dry clothes,
tell Annie everything at once–pipits flying
backwards in the gale, wind-driven rainwater cascading
uphill–but a radio bulletin interrupts: a Spanish trawler’s
sunk off Slyne Head in the storm I’ve revelled in,
the whole crew feared dead.
By morning, news of a different sort: dozens brave
the rain in Cotter’s Yard, tripoded telescopes trained
on a hedgerow. The crowd’s silent until
someone sees it again—
a blue-winged warbler, brought in by the storm.
It’s the first time one’s been seen in Ireland.
It’s in the nettles, I’m told, below the montbretia,
but I can’t see it. The ferry runs non-stop,
brings birdwatchers to Cape Clear—
Father Michael shakes his head: If Jesus
was sighted on the island , would so many
drop everything and travel here to see Him?
Years ago, I stopped the car near Cappoquin
where a boy led pilgrims in the rosary.
It poured then, too. Wind scattered
murmured prayers. The boy’s sister was in hospital,
trying to deal with what she’d heard.
I stared at Mary’s statue. It did not speak.
And now, another bulletin: one man has survived
the trawler disaster. He looks up once
at the cameras, then speaks hoarsely
to the white sheets of his hospital bed.
I have not seen the blue-winged warbler.
I don’t know how many hundred birds perished
in the storm that brought it here. I have not seen
Mary move or heard her voice.
But Christ has a three-day beard and needs
an interpreter. Grief or love or rage
prevents his looking into the cameras—
he can’t rejoice in his own salvation.