Pat Jourdan won the Molly Keane Short Story Award and was second in the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award (both ends of the Island of Ireland!)Several collections of poetry, short stories, two novels -the latest is “A Small Inheritance” and might still be at Charlie Byrnes or Bell Book and Candle (or Amazon, if you’re not boycotting it.)
Five poems by Pat Jourdan
In spring sunlight, the glint of glass
across hedgeless fields shows
traces of crashes.
The A4 notice of death
and the nailed flowers
have decayed over winter.
His blurred photo waits for us
as the bus approaches.
I know that tree by now.
I tense as we pass by.
Just out of town, a mug on a doorstep
beside a car, a sign of love,
better than flowers, a public kiss.
He left flecks in the bed
and all day
I had a private Renaissance.
Tight against the bone
I knew his landscape without maps.
No, I never skinned him;
it’s a lie.
The money he left
was no recompense
for that lost silkiness,
the glide of my hand useless now.
No sleek or velvet surface
gives consolation –
my hand is shaped for his skin;
I smooth the air,
see dust-motes glinting gold.
I have lost a language.
Places Want Us to Go to Them –
They wait, spruced-up, Taj Mahal-pearl,
Oriental palaces pink as cakes,
or they hide like prim Belgian towns,
starched and polished.
Smooth as dreams, destinations wait,
sunsets burnished bronze, their pavements trim,
assorted Leaning Pisas, Eiffel Towers, Sydney Bridges,
Liberty Statues, Northern Lights.
Places draw the strings of roads towards them,
pulling us tighter with promises of change.
We always fall for it, trudging, hitching,
catching buses, that just-beyond stop,
the life that’s perfect waiting miles away.
Try getting towards us.
No mention of road-diggers, pathmakers
who grubbed out these ways so dangerously.
On any other afternoon this drive
would take us past fields rippling with gold
but now the velvet earth, corduroy brown,
shows soil keeping something else alive.
A scattering of sparkling green shoots thrive
as if random sacks of seeds were thrown
across the mapped pages here in my hand
of this November afternoon slate-grey land.
Across T-junctions, along empty lanes
as if there are no other people left
we chunter onwards down unheard-of tracks
where clustered buildings rear up behind trees.
Here is the country’s waiting silent heart
impossible to number, check or chart.
The Old Woman of the Roads Sits at Home
Now the dresser’s glinting in the flame
of the fire’s slow die-down.
Outside thrumming rain reminds me
of places I won’t see again.
Strings of hedgerow, thickets, bracken,
the lean of hawthorns heavy with flower,
dancing elderflowers’ creamy lace –
I knew all these, down to autumn berries,
scraping after them with the birds
into blackberry-crammed bushes.
A glimmer of hope at each townland,
with my gentle demands for bread or milk
as persuasive as any cat.
Scooped in by authorities’ new plans –
this council house, its door and lock
came at last.
Down those far lanes bulldozers rip
apart the ways I knew,
the paths of spring and snow;
unlike the birds
I had somewhere else to go.