Anam Cara Haiku
Four eggs in a bowl
on the kitchen table
shells empty but intact.
(After the Joe Mooney Summer School in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, July 2002)
The Sligo train takes me to the singing place
the place where mines and quarries can be tracherous
and the undertaker buys more than his fair share of drink;
where the famine graveyard is a single field,
the sunshining on its silent slope this afternoon
as my friend refuses to play a flute lament.
I am here to sing, and sing I do, in a classroom
with women who have travelled further than me
to do the same. We learn twenty songs together
from Beleek Rosie with the red jacket and the ready
laugh. We sing about When Muirisheen
want to Bonane, about the Good Ship Kangaroo
and the Verdant Braes of Skreen.
We sing alongside harpers and fiddlers, we drink
tea with the box-players and the set-dancers,
we nod to the tin whistle and the bodhrán players.
We sing. Our instruments are invisible. We carry them
everywhere. They are our own, and only
they can marry the words to the tunes.
In Monica's Bar we swap songs likes charms,
applause linking one to the next. We sing
of emigration, of love charmed or doomed, of death and Napoleon.
We can't stop singing, except to listen to another song.
We don't want the singing to stop, but voices will not
hold out forever without a break. The train home is silent.