Night on this barren island. A grass-cobbled street
with twelve stone houses in stages, from rubbled
blood-coloured granite to holiday restoration.
All the homes, except ours, are in darkness,
harsh light is in the distance on Burtonport pier.
There are stars, a full tide of stars, washing over us.

The end of summer, a soul-warming summer.
I stand with my husband, sons and cousins
where Mum holidayed, where her Mum once played.
We control the silence. The only noise can come from us.
Eist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhaidh tu breac.*

I have never seen so many stars.
My breath has slowed to purring kitten.
I feel what will happen next:
my star shoots through the sky-dark waves.

In this wishing moment,
the final lesions of a wound are healing.
I last summered here the year of her death.
I caught my first fish-a pollack; took to rowing
a rubber dinghy; barrel-rolled down mountainous sand dunes
and leapt from the griddle heat of the Back Strand into raw ocean.

There were no stars that summer.
There was a learning to lift my gaze from grave-deep shadows,
a learning to shield my eyes and search for the horizon;
a learning to look at the moon and feel the pull.
But stars; wild shooting stars that carried life-changing wishes,
only the innocent believed in those.

 

*Eist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhaidh tu breac
Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout