Publisher: Salmon Poetry Reviews
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Identity, landscape and change are the themes of Rosemary Canavan’s second collection, Trucker’s Moll. Rootless, displaced, the poet wanders incessantly, searching to build a personal mythology in a land where only traces of old ways remain.
Hush. I will not tell them
you are growing furiously, silently,
from the stump they cut last year,
your stalks healing bare pipes and concrete,
in the grey city every green spear
is a guerrilla fighter hissing freedom.
From the shade your shoots thrust out dangerously.
Everywhere you erect leafy receptors
to power your takeover.
Showers fuel you as you crawl,
bladed, armed, over rooftops,
across dusty terrain, firing
sudden pollen, an intermittent
but deadly bombardment of seed.
Bees drone overhead, your agents;
birds swiftly drop your grenades.
You never rest. If we rest
you are up and away,
our apparent victory is temporary.
We are deaf to your troop movements,
do not know from which corner
your next attack will be –
still we tear you from roots,
shrivel you with lethal fluid
and you appear to melt away, leaving
tangible corpses by the roadside,
then come at us from another angle.
The force is with your ragged troops,
I will defect to your side,
leave my garden to wilderness,
don a bandolier of seed,
with my breath spray
dandelion to the four winds,
scatter moss spores into concrete,
reach for grain hidden deep in my pocket:
from the dry pods new green will grow.
a whole day
waiting for one word
and then what?
You remember these places exist
by looking at old maps
so long unopened
they crack and seem to fade
at the touch;
shackled too long
to a trip on a Sunday afternoon,
today I have run away
to a land between being and nothingness
where lyre-birds play,
have left behind
which break the souls
of young girls and men,
and taking Fitz’s old bohereen,
a pot-bellied tower signals my Waterloo,
the trainline levels the hillside
and all signs
point back to the city
but I go the other way
and emerge from bog-girt plains
to the shock of snow-covered hills
on a day when snow was immanent.
At Bweeng, a barn
of a church, and a great crucifix
shepherding the dead,
then, by a little road, ‘NAD 3’.
I reverse to read the sign again:
Nead an Fhiolar Mor – the great eagle’s nest –
the fuschia’s russet twigs
pick out the snowed-up road
by farms precise as Breughel,
and two standing stones
left of a sharp bend
mark the beginning of this country:
the monotony of forestry
is a barrier I do not hesitate to cross
until the land,
makes my dog mad
so she toboggans for joy,
frisking and sniffing,
rolling the scruff of her neck
till she is half black dog,
half white snow.
That this might be my kingdom.
but the ivy on the roofless cottage
as I gazed
through where the window was
at flakes that veiled
mountain field and slope
this my view, the house my house
as I sat, ageing and content;
a few flakes of plaster on the stone
hinting at a lost whitewashed room,
faint as my clinging hope.
Soon dreams pass
and I headed back,
pausing only in a shielded spot –
as dogs mark land –
to leave a print of myself in the snow,
wasted and eloquent.
We did not meet their eyes,
fearing their ebony faces
might suck us in with a great smile;
so deep deep dark
as midnight, as forests;
‘coloured’ we called them
as though we had
no colour at all, were not pinkish,
or ‘black’ as if they were not
from tawny to deepest burnt chocolate,
or the fir gorm:
fearing those we were ignorant of –
blue men from the bounds of the Atlas mountains.
below the gardens
and true bird song mingles with false,
which are we to desire,
the real place on the windy hilltop
or the simulated, under neon and glass,
with stone pillars machined
to an exactness they could never have
achieved in the Neolithic?
is a wilderness
it would not have been
when the builders lived there,
beyond it a bus driver berates
a tourist who had lost his ticket ,
and the great mound
is studded with sunstones,
seeded with dry, burnt bones;
a hewn river on the threshold
could be goddess curls,
past which the sun would penetrate
again and again,
now squeezed out by politicians –
returning I break
bilberries in my mouth,
watch how the sun
lowering by grasses gilds the stone,
makes each stem a wand of light.