Ciarán O’Rourke – Two Poems

Ciarán O’Rourke lives in Leitrim. He has won the Lena Maguire/Cúirt New Irish Writing Award, the Westport Poetry Prize, and the Fish Poetry Prize. His first collection, The Buried Breath, was published by Irish Pages Press in 2018. His second collection is expected in 2021.

The Sower

A sundered lover, failing friend,
adept in leisure, loneliness, and need,

I shelter from the hurricane
of apathy and greed

in a gleaming, bookish bunker,
where I read… and pad

the boards at tuning time,
turning postcards into rhyme,

because I must – both yours
and mine. Before me now:

a sower’s glowing field of mud
like a fox’s coat at dusk,

a poplar shimmer
to the sinking light, the sun’s

green disc ablaze:
he moves, the sowing man,

a shadow, slow
and river-blue, toward

the earth-root, darkly
climbing into air.

A parable of labour?
Or a season’s holy hour?

In a world forever
dying out, our

vividness is power.
Through haunted

meads of morning fog,
I carried me today

by bike, small
sprinkle-webs of water-dew

collecting in my hair:
I smelt the winter sun

afloat, a singing,
glistened-ivy scent

that lingered in the haze –
the nearing brightness

drew me on, the sun
beyond my reach.

In fever-dreams, I breathe
the sun

like golden oxygen, or sex,
as if my life

were gathered still
in the sunspot of your neck.

Bird Weather

I kiss the morning, thin and bright,
and watch the avid aviary in flight:

the beady, rookish ravens fight,
as late September’s loud-eyed light

comes tramping down the thoroughfare
like a vagabond amiss. I’ll live,

perhaps, for days like this.
A voice inside me crows

and flits, oracular and keen –
to find the hidden origin

of weather like a fire,
secreting all desire,

near my heart. I part
the spilling years of sun

unthinkingly, and plumb
in summer waters

deepening to blue, when
you and I were new

and true. I’m raining
into history

before the swallows go
(all memory a mystery

no muse would disavow),
though amorous

for parliament
with the poetry of crowds.

Tomorrow, they’ll be singing
of the seasonal return

of power to the people,
as the border-fences burn.

I’ll know the conflagration,
for you taught me how to yearn:

in an inward-looking diary,
listening for birds.



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