While wind cuts trenches in the sea, the body cannot
leave for hallowed ground. The coffin’s sheltered
on a ledge, north-facing, no man’s land, turned
towards the churchyard—but a week may pass
in waiting till the curragh’s launched.
Indoors, by the smoke of turf and mutton-fat
that swills around the wick in scallop shells,
a cousin reaches for a larger teapot,
more of the kept-for-best chipped cups:
there’s talk of how the wedding was,
a coat from Dingle, letters from America,
the teacher, words to fiddle tunes. Another
cousin pats a handed-down oiled cap,
and they’re all waiting for a lull,
listening to the waves subside.
Outside, only the departed is denied
familiar company, a soul arrested, enduring
on a rock the time all Blasket islanders must lie
apart, above the sea, cold as the stone field
they honour as the place of loneliness.