Selected Poems by Kerri ní Dochartaigh
Last night I dreamed of murmuration—
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
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.
I made a star bird
on tracing paper,
in a field with a gypsy caravan
black mountain above me
unknown valley inside me.
Watching the sky
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.