Selected Poems by Kerri ní Dochartaigh



Last night I dreamed of murmuration—

swirling, eddying,

silhouetted against an early evening sky.

We cannot map their patterns,

never quite sure what it is that calls them

to gather, gather, gather.

A delicate performance in the air,

many moons in the planning.

In my dream I watch, intent on keeping

this miraculous shadow-show in my mind forever.

Just as quickly, I lose them

to the soft blue glow of morning—

to the bare and rattling winter trees.





A pale sliver of fresh frost light

sings down onto the ashen canal

as the last of the yellow day plays out;

an almost hidden crescent.


As the wrens map out paths,

the air above, tightening and loosening,

seems stiller now.

Sea-pink hues fill the spaces

in between.

Winter's iridescent haze.


Now, still, I think of your leaving—

silent, humble, green.

Of how you named the birds outside the window

in those sleepless hours of dawn;

chaffinch, coal-tit, blackbird,

bullfinch, robin, wren.


Now, still, I think of your strength and hushed wisdom—

of how you brought the stars

in your paper-thin, speckled hands.



New Constellation


I made a star bird

on tracing paper,

in a field with a gypsy caravan

beside me

black mountain above me

unknown valley inside me.


Watching the sky

swirling grey-gold

into the afternoon,

I feel the haar stretch out

its fisherman limbs;

re-writing ancient tales on the Usk.


We keep the river on our right

and meander through wildflowers—

colours once hidden from my view.


I think of him as the swallows

dip in and out of the surface,

creating ripples like stars

being shuffled, renamed,



He dove into the night's harbour

and built a new constellation

in the sky.



Kerri ní Dochartaigh

Kerri ní Dochartaigh won the Mark Avery Prize for Nature Writing and Politics in January 2017. She was highly commended in the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize in May of this year and was shortlisted for both the National Memory Day Poetry Prize and the Robert Monteith Poetry competition in June. She is a writer living in a very north-westerly part of Ireland, where the sky is grey and unbearably beautiful; where the land is folkloric and full of swan song. She read English Literature and Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. Her work has been published in some blogs and journals. Her favourite bird is the curlew, her favourite Undertones’ song is ‘Get Over You,' and her favourite cup is mint green with a pale blue handle.