Bhí tráth
go léadh sí iad os ard
amach as an nuachtán,
ag cur cóngas gaoil isteach
gairid, sínte, i bhfad amach
nó muna raibh gaol fola féin ann
“I wonder are we any relation?”
is ríomhadh sí gaolta cleamhnais
nó lucht aitheantais
ag sloinneadh daoine siar amach,
a oiread acu a bhí beo
a oiread acu a bhí marbh
a oiread acu a phós
a oiread acu fós fén dtuath
a oiread acu sa chathair,
ag fí gréasáin mhuintire
ina líontán damhán alla.

Thugas na cosa liom
mar a cheapas,
ach níl lá anois
go n-osclaím leathanach
na bhfógraí báis
á scanadh,
nach gcloisim a guth
ina thaifeadadh beo
tríd an gcló in ómós
díanamacha na marbh,
sean-nós máthar is mé óg
á chanadh.


There was a time
She would read them aloud
From the newspaper,
Remarking on how we were linked:
Close, not so close, distant
And if there was no blood tie there
‘I wonder are we any relation?’
And she’d go into relations by marriage
And acquaintances
Naming people back in time,
The ones that were alive
The ones that were dead
The ones that were married
The ones still living in the country
The ones in the city
A pattern of relations
Spun into her spider’s web.

I had escaped all that
Or so I thought
But there’s not a day now
When I open the page
Of the death notices
Scanning them
That I don’t hear her voice
A live recording
Through the print in homage
To the souls of the dead,
A mother’s old-fashioned tone
From my early years,
Incanting.

 

– Translated from the Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock