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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Three Creatures from Mortal Memory – John W. Sexton

Mar 28, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Hen

Flies hizzing. Hen stands on the midden.
Eye beady as night that sees by dark.

In that mind one thought continuous
from the moment of the first to the end.

The ground dissembles at her peck.
The deep end of the sky drains to negative.

The night is pocked with stars. Pustules
of light break everywhere. Hen’s mind

a new day at the break of the neck.

__

 

Starry

Starry, my mother called her;
she was the jet-black stray
with a white star-shaped mark
on the brow of her head.

“That one fell out of the sky
in some shooting star,”
my father would say,
and we all knew it to be true.

For every else bit of her
was as black as the night.
She had the night
deep inside her too.

During the day, even under
the brightest of sunlight,
she was the cold shadow
that birds fell into:

sparrows, thrushes, wrens,
the beeping finch,
all fallen into the dusk
of her pounce.

__

Stonefly Larvae

Ahane, in my ninth summer, and my mother took me fishing, up to the glaisín on the high meadow. Up to where the hares chased their thoughts of light, when neither the moon nor the sun could open the clouds.

We brought no fishing-rod or line, but just an empty jam jar each. The stream was nothing but a grassy gash in the meadow. Stones and pebbles bled from its opening, and a thin thread of water wended its way through.

Our jam jars slipped into disappearance as we placed them sideways in the water; and tiny were the things that drifted blindly into them.

And when we lifted the jars against sunlight, we could see our captives suspended perfectly at the very centre. More earwig than fish, with horns like long strands of hair, and also tails like strands of hair. Mum said they were the pets of the fairies, and good luck we’d surely get if they were returned to the water.

But I coveted one and brought it home, and Mum could not defy me. It languished in the jar for days, until the water darkened and death sprouted as fine white roots from its body. I emptied the jar onto the dung heap by the cattle sheds, and heard no keening or curse from the fairies.

But now, lost these long years from my ninth year, I do hear them. And though I can still see the thoughts of hares, racing like a glitter across the meadows, I can no longer hope to ever catch them. I can never hope to know the things I lost, all in that single day of my ninth summer.

__

Notes to Stonefly Larvae
Ahane: mountainy townland in Brosna, County Kerry.
Glaisín: (pronounced glosh-een) is the diminutive of glas or glaise, an Irish word for rivulet or stream. In localised usage it can also refer variously to: mountain spate-water in winter, a sudden spring, a boundary stream, or a stream through bogland.

John W. Sexton

John W. Sexton

John W. Sexton is an Irish poet, children’s novelist and radio scriptwriter. His sixth poetry collection, Futures Pass, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2018. A chapbook of surrealist poetry, Inverted Night, came out from Survision Books in 2019. His seventh collection, Visions at Templeglantine came out in 2020 from the Revival Press. His poem The Green Owl was awarded the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007 for best single poem, and in that same year he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album, Sons of Shiva, with the legendary British rock guitarist and ex-Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell. His next collection, The World Under The World, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. He is a vision poet and identifies with the Irish Aisling Tradition, and also with the fabulist, magic realist and surrealist spectrums of contemporary poetry.

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