Gold light washed over monochrome
makes the clouds over Moll’s Gap look holy.
And the way the man in the white jumper listens
to the fellow turned to him suggests they’re friends
with each other and with the ground they stand on.
All around them graves dug over centuries,
monks and nuns and the five thousand from the first famine year,
whose remains, hastily buried, sometimes still bloom
in winter’s heavings, so the mowers must take special care.
In this frame of holy clouds and fringe of grass along the bottom,
they could be standing on the further hill
caught in an idle moment at the end of trenching a row
or on the pier, watching the holiday boats.
I imagine they carry the place with them in sleep.
I imagine them not imagining
a single story about the dead whose space they tend,
how they leave that to the tourists replete with maps and phones.
How these men stick to trimming grass and hacking back the fuchsia
when it threatens to engulf some family plot,
and gather the inadvertent trash left by the curious--
leave rain and sun and wind to do the rest.
Each evening they leave the dead in peace
and settle in, for Dublin, My Fair City or RTE, or a book
left open on its spine beside the bed. But they return again each morning,
speaking a word to this or that inhabitant, as if returning home.
Miriam O'Neal is the author of We Start With What We're Given (Kelsay Press, 2018). Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Blackbird Review, Lily Poetry Review, Ragazine, River Heron Review, and elsewhere. She is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, was a Finalist in the Brian Turner Poetry Prize in 2016 and the Princemere Poetry Prize in 2018 and also translates Italian poetry. She earned her MFA at Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Plymouth, MA with her husband and dog.
The Ekphrastic Review
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