by Paula Meehan
It was only when it receded
we knew it for the gift it had been.
If truth be told we missed the water.
It was exactly what we’d needed.
We missed the way it made a mirror —
doubled goose, godwit, egret, heron;
and that once in moonlight we looked down
on two complete and drowning strangers,
those depths where later wolfbane seeded.
Leave her in the lap of Our Lady —
her counsel for where to place the lost
when we close the door on their madness.
She slammed the door on her own daughter,
left her to the city’s chartered streets,
found her in the Liffey’s dark water,
cast up in the week before Christmas
the city gripped in the hardest frost
the eve of the new austerity.
I walked your ghost trail through the city,
I knocked at all the old addresses,
but nowhere did I find word of you.
One friend said you’d died. It was a lie:
I knew by the shadows in her eyes.
She swore you’d been some class of a spy.
I was but one in a lengthening queue
of women crazed by your excesses,
fucking fools who deserved no pity.
When you call it my book of shadows
I scry the tawny deer move upwind
towards the Furry Glen, and the stars
above have their own kind of grammar,
their own declension of wingéd folk —
the Mother, the Father, the Other.
I understand the transit of Mars
is a fated course that has us twinned
lost souls beneath the skylight window.
I remember you well in Grogan’s.
You called it the Poet’s Horror Hole.
And though it was easy to get there,
it was harder to find a way home.
Now that you’re on the straight and narrow
with your charts, your mottoes, your slogans,
your strategies, your game plans, your goals
you’re melting our heads with disasters,
with gossip, with lost–bar–god syndrome.