by Liz BourkeThe mountain's lee, the valley
brimming with black lakes, spring-fed
where glaciers birthed when the world
was ice: here a church, stone-squat,
grey; a tower, round and reaching
for the sky - old rock carved
in ancient faces, and cliffsides
wracked with tumbled granite
where the old mine lies abandoned
by progress, by time. That a
monastery grew here, once, does
not mean it was a Christian place.
Listen. The wind is a ghost,
howling with ancient voices,
drowned souls whisper in the reeds.
The baptism of these waters
does not mean forgiveness.
Remember the bog. Remember the edge
of things, the slave, the king --
dying on his knees in wet brown weeds,
garrotte a tightening torc around
his neck, golden where they sank
his sacrifice in that shifting ground.
Bogs and black water, bottomless,
Twisted firs on the hillside spur
limned with gold, purple, spaces
straining towards sunset.
You may forget, and send
bishops to baptise
your kings. It is still blood,
in the end, making the sun rise:
Liz Bourke was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, where she now studies ancient history in Trinity College. Her favourite fruit is the perfect ripe plum found in Crete in high summer. (After eating Cretan fruit, she found the Irish kind never quite measured up.)
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