The Gift of Leaving

Just when I have it by heart:
that hip-swell of hill
curving into Barr na ghaoith, Top off the Wind;
each rolled smooth stippled stone
of Boatharbour and Drimmeen beach;
the stormy head of bay at Ceann Dólainn
its sandy flesh ripe peach
in the warm afternoon light;
a peak of forehead at Ard Mór
from which at night we watch
the double beat of syncopated Slyne Head
pulse white among the grass green Northern lights;
the Spectacles, two lochs flooded with sky,
holding it's moon-blue light
long past dusk darkening the bog hills around
moulded by shadow and
the scatter of rocks frosted with lichen
slithering into fences.

Just when I am caught into the web of seasons:
strewn sunlight of gorse
and smouldering purple haze of heather
faded now under the burnished blaze of bracken
as autumn rolls across the bog;
the inward turning days;
the sea holding its deep breath to bursting,
highest tide of the year swelling over roads,
leaving its thick clutter of honey-glazed weed.

Just when clean western gales graze my face,
skin singing with salt
in the dark star-flecked night,
taking the sleeping children from car to bed
after a night drenched in music and poems;
the ocean whipped to craggy waves
mimicking the jagged rocks
frothing fluro-white at Carraig an Bhalbháin.

Just when this thread of land into the Atlantic
is woven into my dreams:
this place of soft quiet
where the empty hands of the starving
built a harbour,
eyes wet with loss for those dead
or jammed into boats full of hope;
their pearly tears flowing down the years
making rich this place of full hearts and sweet words.

Just when the filigree of family ties here
splays open from my blood,
ravelling into the mossy veins ribboning
along through the dark peat;
shadows in another land take form
tugging on my twine of years
tangled in that other place.

The gift of leaving
is to remember with you these names of place,
rolling them on the tongue of memory,
not clipped, not bitten out of language.
The gift of leaving
is to see this place
as if for the last time,
wrapped in the mist of longing,
a snapshot for the album of dreams.
The gift of leaving
is to slip somewhere silent or sacred
in the repossessed spells of the old ways,
the shadow of my voice, fall of my step,
so that bound by what is left behind,
returning is assured, like all things unknown.