for Mary Thaidhg
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?
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
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.