Jane Clarke is originally from a farm in Roscommon. She now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has had poems published in The Irish Independent, Mslexia, The Stinging Fly, The Shop, Envoi, Southword, Cyphers, The Stony Thursday Book, Crannog, Revival, and has won a number of prizes including Listowel Writers Week (2007), iYeats (2010) and runner-up in the Fish Poetry Prize (2009 & 2012) and the Mslexia Poetry Competition (2012). She has two poems in Tokens for the Foundlings, an anthology of poems about childhood, published by Seren (2012). www.janeclarkepoetry.ie
Three poems by Jane Clarke
This morning’s sunshine melts the crust
of last night’s frost, warms the frozen loam.
The lenten roses she grew from seed
have come again in shades of apricot
and aubergine just when it seemed
winter would never end.
They hang their heads, hide cup faces,
tepals and stamens. I think of our days
side by side, rooting out scutch grass,
digging in compost, hauling buckets
of stones, what I learned about growing
from how she mothered this soil.
My father’s father’s father planted them,
a shelter belt for his nursery on the banks
of the river Suck by the seven arched bridge.
At dusk in November we walk the field
through withered leaves, cupules, nuts
and husks, under the shade of branches
that fall like fountain spray, ochre and amber
leaves reflect the setting sun.
His hands shake as he touches the bark,
olive-grey, smooth as river rocks.
He shows me a hollow trunk,
tells me old beech are prone to wind damage,
where a branch breaks off,
decay sets in and rots the heartwood.
House on the Seafront at Bray
Beyond the rusted white gate,
the overgrown escallonia,
the pergola draped in climbing roses,
she has let herself go; peeling paintwork,
broken window panes, cracked chimney pots.
How elegant she must once have been;
paths lined with lavender, granite-glitter steps,
quartered sash windows,
filigree fanlight above a panelled front door.
Some days in gusts of wind and rain
she wraps her arms around her body,
rocks and cries like the herring gulls above.
Quiet days she looks from an upstairs window
across the cornflower sea, remembering those
she held, listening to the pull of waves on shingle.