Noel Connor was born in Belfast. He studied Fine Art there and in the North-East of England. His images and writings have appeared in various publications including The Honest Ulsterman, Krino, Lexicon, Outposts, Poetry Review and Stand. He exhibits widely in Ireland and Britain and his artist/poet collaborations have been published by Bloodaxe Books and Enitharmon Press amongst others. His work can be viewed at http://www.noelconnor.com
for Merlyn and David
I’ve heard it said
a vengeful cuckoo brings bad weather.
We had our first warning
arriving at your gate in Kilclooney,
then standing by your door
in the late April sunshine
between the showers of snow and icy rain,
the bird’s insistent call
made us all stop and listen once again.
And louder still that cuckoo called
as you proudly led us to the midden
freshly exposed in the raw bank
you had cut behind the house.
Layers of discarded shells,
the spoils of ancient meals
sandwiched in the sandy soil
miles from the sea, Neolithic debris
like the piles we’d found exposed
in the dunes at Magheramore.
All week the passing downpours
slush our windows, then sudden
breaks of sky will light the bay
and spot the islands one by one.
Yesterday we waited for a break,
risked the weather sweeping in
across Tor Mor and Loughros Point,
across the ancient graves of Inishbarnog.
But it caught us out,
cutting through the marran grass
on the track behind Tramore.
Backlit against a blackened sky
brilliant hailstones shot like pellets
riddled the shallow pond below the path.
Then gone, in a shock of silence,
racing inland to Sheskinmore.
We emerged elated, to a low sun
shaping shadows on the empty strand,
and found a midden of hailstones
cupped in sand, overflowing,
spilling down the dune.