Michael Davitt and His Oomph of Quicksilver by Eilín de Paor

It was at a Ring Summer School opening night,
that I first heard you read.
A rangy anti-saint with blond afro, 
John Lennon glasses and an Aran knit.

I knew your Ó Mo Bheirt Phailistíneach, of course, from our Leaving Cert text.
I’d even read your poem about being barred from Club an Chonradh (a Mhamaí).
That was some claim – they’d serve anyone there, 
as seventeen year old I knew.

I wasn’t prepared, though, for the mercury surge of your spoken words –
forging new courses through a brain 
hungry for explosives, unravelling the cable-binds 
of school-drilled Irish with dynamitic charges.

Níorbh é m’athair níos mó é ach ba mise a mhacsan / 
He was no longer my father but I was still his son.
Ní féidir leat aon focain rud fírinneach a rá teitheann do chairde 
cacann pangur bán i lár an tí / 
You’re not able to say one fucking true thing friends disappear 
pangur bán shits on the kitchen floor.
Dís débheathach i bhfreacnairc mhearcair / 
A pair of amphibians in the oomph of quicksilver.

Years later, on a random holiday Sunday in Sintra, your words 
drifted back to me through the sleepy fug of a port-chilled afternoon,
oddly-timed enough to have me wonder when 
I might hear you read again.

A phone beep from a friend back home:
Was it the blast wave of your final oomph I’d felt?
Just fifty-five. You had too much of it for one heart to contain.

(In response to ‘Freacnairc Mhearcair / Oomph of Quicksilver: Rogha Dánta 1970-1998’ by Michael Davitt, edited by Louis de Paor. All italicised quotes are from poems included in the above book.)

Eilín de Paor

Eilín de Paor is an emerging Dublin poet. A latecomer to writing, she works with people with intellectual disabilities and lectures in disability studies. She was selected to participate in The Stinging Fly Summer School 2019. Her poems have been published by Algebra of Owls and The Organic Poet.

Twitter: @edepaor