for Mary Thaidhg

I

Maiden. Unskilled. Alone.
The language I find you in is not the one you spoke,

you who taught me that to make a home is to make a sound
in the world, and be understood

for the bright, black bogs we were raised on,
heather-furred and spinning invisible gnats
high into the evening.

What is more vowel than a piece of turf drying in the sun?

II

By night the ferry departs Ellis Island.

In the waves, the stern leaves                  a dark kaleidoscope
of lace and disappearing knots.

But I do not think of you as servant in a high collar, long hem.

I think of you as bed-dressed and holding me
against a dream, mothering me back towards the bone
again.

III

In these divided states, I dream you           at the end of your life,

in the peach room with the peach blinds,

upright in a hard-backed chair

like an ivy that won’t take hold
like a woman mugged of her own name
like an empty boat

all day tapping the table-tray, having lost your tongue,
             having realised that to lose a home is to wake somewhere
on the ocean
             knowing no cut of earth
                               and without a spade for the darkness.