The Light for Damhnait Ní Ríordáin

by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Come out, I say, and you all come to the light.
I look for her, she’s there,
the sunlight glancing up from the shining leaves
wavers on her face
as she consults the rosebush, the light moving
in slow time with her hair.

At the end of the garden where the tall trees shiver
the river’s in spate.
We walked down there at dawn to get rid of the noise
of the night’s debate,
leaving the table with the bottles and empty glasses,
Socrates and his fate

in Phaedo, in the Great Books of the World edition
on thin Bible paper
laid open, we left them to look at the swelling river
rushing to Askeaton,
the tall Desmond castle by the bridge and the friary downstream
in their desolation.

We turned back, we had to wash the glasses and arrange
the room before her parents
rose up, she stopped to consult the rosebush, and the sun
rose up in its ranges,
her face shone green in the glancing light, I remember
across all the changes

and that they had arrived in the dark, the small shy moths
lined up, wings packed tight,
crowded under the lamp that still shone emptily
recalling the hours of night.