Louise O’Neill Vance – First Day Free: The Burren

Louise O’Neill Vance is a writer and former documentary filmmaker living in Oranmore, Galway since 2017. Her grandparents emigrated to New York from Galway and Mayo a century ago.
An original producer at CNN, Louise created network television documentaries in the U.S., earning Peabody and duPont Awards. She taught Documentary Film at Sonoma State University, and in 2016, wrote a chapter for the college anthology, Documentary Film: An Insider’s Perspective.
Louise writes essays, fiction, and poetry, and photographs the Irish landscape. She was part of The Sanctuary Project in 2018 and is active in a writers’ collective in south Galway.


First Day Free: The Burren

The 5K limit held us
on its loving leash
from St. Stephen’s Day ’til Easter passed –
our worlds condensed
to a withering sameness.

Make the most of it, my inner voice said.
Good things come to those who wait.

So I listened
I waited
I put on a mask of good cheer.
I dreamt of this mid-April day,
its warm spring stillness
lingering luxurious and gold
on the granite hills of the Burren,
mounds rising bulbous at my feet,
no longer a pale blue fold
on the horizon.

My heart wants to sing,
then recoils.
Joy shimmies to the surface,
then dives below.
Lethargy persists.

I am out of sorts. We are all out of sorts.

Because try as it may,
this April day
cannot erase a year
of grasping for normal,
fists flailing against
the tyranny of the unknown.
No, one day can’t do that.

But this evening
I could cry
or cheer
or jump down the lane.
I could eat
the cracked hillsides,
lap up the smoky blue,
let the eight o’clock sun
stir up remembrances
of life we knew
of life
yet to come.

– Louise O’Neill Vance



Photo credit: Louise O’Neill Vance


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