John D. Kelly lives in Co. Fermanagh. Since he began writing creatively in
2011, his work has been commended in many competitions and published
in various literary publications. He was Highly Commended in the Patrick
Kavanagh Poetry Award 2016, awarded joint ‘Silver’ in the International
Dermot Healy Poetry Competition in both 2015 and 2014, and won first prize
in Hungry Hill ‘Poets Meet Painters’ 2014, amongst other awards.
Let’s Walk On Water
Perhaps this one
will be a Deus ex machina —
a contraption made
on this thin leaf of paper inked
with dark pools of foreign words
translated and dried; stitched
and bound in vellum
or another precious leather?
Perhaps this one
might make your heart race faster —
make you as a tomboy again,
so you can last the pace and fly
or sing, or swim above (or below) it,
be dry, or wet, within it, in a lather;
in a circle of cinematic rushes
in a pond or on a stage with actors
strutting their stuff
in a vast theatre (in the round)
bigger than any space ever
to be found in only one stanza?
Perhaps on this page of rooms
you might just find it
standing with me
under the same big umbrella;
not desperate in the cold shade
of a black brolly
but warm, below a painted parasol
as if in a Monet
where my bare feet may dare
to play music on lily-pads
as cut-out ink-blotted paper notes
on the surface of silent water?
Perhaps ancient pike will lurk here
below our tender soles; you,
a fearful pond-skater, and me only
a mere mortal wishing for whiskey
and ice, as I crane my neck and boom
as a yellow bittern in a fog
searching for a plot
or a clever device to buoy you?
It will be finished when the bumblebee
hits the windscreen!
I recall his unsatisfactory answer —
at that time — to my question
as today it hits me
once more, when I hear the faintest
of thuds, on a static crystal-clear pane.
It takes me back to the front passenger
seat, of a dangerously overtaking
white transit van, to when I first saw
a life ended in a light-honey-coloured
splat — a suspension
of antennae, fur, wings, legs.
I jump up now
alert, happy to escape the frozen glare
of the still, silent page —
hours of scribbling
producing only crumpled-up paper
to brim the wicker basket.
I slam-dunk another one, throw a useless
pen down on a desk, and bound over
to open the invisible door to see it lying
still, silent on a cold concrete threshold.
Was this tiny featherweight body punched
off course by the icy gale force wind?
Perhaps its druidic spirit simply couldn’t accept
the clear alchemy of molten silica, tempered?
Did she try to fly through it in a rage?
I lift her — that little bird — the ancient
celtic sages’ friend; no liquid bee or amber
bee-juice on the glass, or even a speck of blood.
Perhaps she’s not quite dead, just stunned?
I cup her lightness in my warm hand
— bring it in —
try to give her the kiss of life.
seem ridiculous, puckered to a tiny beak.