I stand five beds back from my mother’s screaming
red mouth on the late night hospital ward.
This is not a hospital!
Rain flogs the window,
sound of galloping horses.
Her head is shaved, her face etched
to her like a first face
not a hospital
Her clown mouth floats
then sinks like rain,
her arms tethered
to the shiny bed rails.

Cith toirní
4 am and I sit bolt upright. Breathless. Beside her.
She is still crying. Stop. Start. The bawl of
a sick child; the Sacred Heart picture propped
by our bed, close to her imploring lips.
Outside, showers fall.
The flood-pond bubbles raindrops, the noise
of last breaths, the almost drowned
bargaining for air, choking,
blanking out
as my heart does.

Lá bog braonach
The loneliest place on a soft October day
is the orchard, sweet smell of rot,
forgotten wormy windfalls,
mouldy leaves. My mother’s
new black turban-like hat covers
her apple-bald head.
She strolls, upturning sodden
golden leaves; a winding trail opens
behind her. She breathes
in mild evening air;
a scene that if decoded would reveal

Your bowed head
in the mist, Mother,
your bowed shoulders,
the dead-straight hang
of your arms, the pink stillness
of your fingers,
your new shape
in the old coat.
You have left.

Scim dhraíochta
Noon on a damp lawn.
Autumn grass sparkles,
dusted silver by recent fog.
Two silhouettes on the gravel path
hurry towards each other in golden sun.
My mother opens her arms
to greet her mother,
accepts now what is

Tonnchith-cheatha = downpour
Cith toirní = thunder shower
Lá bog braonach = soft misty day
Doilbhcheo = dark mist
Scim dhraíochta = magic haze