Luke Morgan is an Irish poet. His work has been published in the Poetry Ireland Review, Cyphers, The Moth, Crannóg among others. He was the winner in his category for the inaugural Poetry Ireland/Trócaire competition for his poem “Atlas”. In 2012, Window’s Publications featured a small collection of his poetry as part of their tenth anniversary edition. He lives in Galway.
There’s nothing we can give it. There’s nothing
it wants anyways, despite the way its head
jerks this way then that,
but singing Blackbird is something my daughter
feels she must do – a duty of sorts.
Not to the elephants or rhinos, but ravens –
or rather, this particular raven,
perched on the swinging phoneline
overlooking the zoo.
It’s like he rules the world, she whispers to me.
I think they’ve always ruled the world, ravens –
on pedestals of scantily-clad twig-tops,
sliding through snowscapes like dagger hilts.
It stays still for so long, it could be a father
with his daughter, gazing on an exhibit,
not pointing, but observing.
Oblivious of passers-by, she puts a hand
on me and tries to balance herself
like the raven on the swinging wire. Look dad,
she cries, now I can rule the world too.
Then, she goes back to humming.
I look to her, the faces of strangers
and then up at the black king,
wondering if I could share that assurance,
if I could have the language of song
while the Earth swung, beneath my feet.
As I stand upright at this moment, the tiny convulsions
between heel and calf providing the level
for my knees to lock,
a parakeet is held on an elm’s forearm,
a zebra stills herself over a bank to drink,
a flamingo strides across a tight-rope of water.
Have you heard of the myth
that an elephant can roll on a beach ball, feet tucked-in,
for a child who must stand against the wooden fence
to see? A cricket hangs onto grass long enough to feed.
A lion on a cliff-edge crouches deep,
the zebra’s muscle ticks. The great world
spins, like a beach ball.
One by one, fireplaces
drift into hibernation.
Merchants re-open market stalls,
tulips gently hatch
as unclenched fists.
The days stretch their arms
and head off to work, whistling.
Winter is now only a trickle
in a mountain stream, dashing
headlong into lakes
where it will plot again
Beavers begin the workings of dams
and snow cowers in the shade
as a new sun strides to the sky,
on a washing line behind it.
Was it water, its gentle sonata
over percussions of stone
on a wide-mountain score?
Was it air, simple sift
through trees – a sonar flute
through the strings?
Was it fire, rhythmic spit
and cello drone
that predicted the first gramophone?
Or crescendos at camp edge
where a mother’s heavings
leave in their wake
a newborn’s trickling cry?
I throw the gum-drop ball
across the grass and she pelts towards it,
comes back eight years later
slower now, hair browning
bearing the sugar-blue gift
unbroken in her enamel hold.
A January threatening happiness
was thrown back into the dark
of early mornings, cold nights.
Endless obituaries added pity
for strangers, crowds formed
and thronged churches.
Life was optional, it seemed.
And the dew-eyed boy
offering unused Christmas crackers
door-to-door in advance of next year
was told to shoo, wipe that smirk
off his face, get busy growing up.