Eoghan Totten: A County Down student scientist, living in Berkeley, CA. In recent years he has turned his hand to poetry and short fiction. He has managed the comment section of a London student newspaper. He seeks to affirm his identity through cultural expression, inheriting his great Grandfather’s legacy, active playwright in the 1930s BBC in the North of Ireland.
Clio from a Height
She was waiting for me as I cut straight
Across the flank of Slieve Thomas, the slate
Scree slipping beneath my feet, with thick gorse
Billowing knee high, beckoning my course
Toward the quarry. Clio, proclaimer,
Muse of landscaped litanies, confined, furred
Beneath the ebb of things. Hands on knees, I
Forged uphill, one final push, azure skies
Merging with the flecked earth, passed the wooden
Fence that splayed the fields. The deep horizon
Unfurled, cascaded down four hundred feet
To the town below with its well-worn streets
Snaking like rivulets, rimmed in shadows
Cast by the mountains in the dusk. Hollows
In the peak face formed firm green tree furrows
To roll like waves, mirrored the sea bellows
Cerulean pantheon, truth
In liquid form, kissing the coast, a proof
Of the divine, ethereal harmony
Summed up by things in themselves. History
Was wrought, moulded, shaped in this bay, its arc
Curving concave to Saint John’s Point, a mark
Made by the lighthouse, enveloped in haze.
Gold sands give its line a glistening glaze.
Clipped windmills, just visible, ten miles off,
Rotating sentinels, stared up towards
Me, forming a mesh between land and sea,
Sealing Clio’s proclamation. I freed
My gaze, retraced my steps, my mind at peace,
Aware of the subtle Eunomia.
The senior pitch ran rugged and ready
Away from the school buildings to the west.
Raised tall on a plateau, flanked on two sides
By barbed metal fence, ashen school borders
Hemming us in, top and left. Gravel straits
Ran away to the right, a no man’s land
Between us and De La Salle Secondary.
Steep knolls behind our backs, this was our world.
Gaelic posts stretched sharp into thin air to
Merge with combed, smudged skies, their tips beyond view
As we trudged, skipped, raced from classes across
Threshed tarmac, our boots flaking mud, laces
Trailing in our wake, worn footballs in hand
With a good weight to them. Eager, nervous,
All types made our number. For one hour this
Was our lot, feeling the ploughed pitch beneath
Us. Those posts, thin and evasive, shimmered
Through whistling winds when struck, glanced by our shots,
Slaps of leather on padded gloves forging
Beats in sync with their metallic bell-ring.
I ran the borders year on year, lapping
Regular, rhythmic jaunts, took it all in,
Weaving school soul fabric through my fibres.
Overcast skies in memory, our school
Would hum, nestled beneath that pitch, humbled
Arena, our treasured Olympia.
The bronzed lights forking into cold winter
Mornings. Lap after lap I’d turn my back,
Dig into mud, sole springs to my stride, breath
Fogging, spirits soaring, school glow spurring
Me on. I buried lap after lap just
To see it again, the stove that kept me
Warm from winds off the Quoile, kindred spirits
That soared for seven happy years. My roots.
Jutting into azure seas, wise harbours
Viewed all. Phoenician galleons, Viking
Raids, economy to tyranny, waxed,
Waned, to come again. Varnished wooden hulls
Splintered on sharp, fixed stone, before striking
Out to sea again, whisking crews of friend
Or foe on rancorous winds, their whistle
Over squat port walls of no consequence.
Attached to land, they keep their distance like
Overseers of good and evil, subtle
Sentinels, guardians of fishermen.
Horde, catch, whatever we berthed, they never