Columbarium by Eileen Casey (For John)

Behind these windows, exiled; our vista
this ordinary neighbourhood in South Dublin.
Nothing grand. No exotic boulevard sounds
or scents. Dandelion dots the grass, Easter
yellow still, soon to be wispish, puffed up
clocks, blowing out Covid rhyme…It loves us…
…It loves us not…it loves us…it loves us not… 

These are ordinary rooms. Ghosts ambush us
from old hiding places; hand-written letters,
lists to do and buy, once so urgent. Drawings, 
rosy as children, grainy photographs. Memory

a dagger. It pricks our flesh. Pain thresholds
depend on point of entry, how sharp the needle. 
It finds its target with deadly accuracy. Wounds 
fester like a dead fox on midnight roads.

We watch the news for updates, find comfort
in cherished books we read and re-read,
familiar companions on this unexpected trip
through an all too real, surreal world.

There are journeys we’d someday wish to make, 
pilgrimages to Shakespeare’s bones. Austen’s
Lowell’s. Keats. So many someday others.

What of George Bataille’s
‘One day this living world will pullulate in my dead mouth’?*

To be already dead in life is not the fate
we seek, however grotesque this two meters
apart masquerade becomes.  We pray
there will be time to make some fresh discovery
between the shock of now, what lies ahead;

poultice for all that’s slipped away. So,
like pigeons in their nesting boxes, we coo
to each other, each breath blessed as a song.

*Read in Rob Doyle’s Threshold (Bloomsbury)

Eileen Casey

Based in South Dublin, Casey’s work is widely published in anthologies by Dedalus, New Island, Salmon, Nordic Irish Studies Journal, Stinging Fly, Faber & Faber, among others. Awards include: A Sunday Tribune/Hennessy Literary Award and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship.
Berries for Singing Birds (Arlen House) is her most recent poetry collection.

Eileen’s blog

Twitter: @EileenCasey2