In a Boneyard in Galway

In a boneyard in Galway
I stepped into an open grave
the grass above my head,
invisible, a vacancy waiting
for me.

            It was my fall from grace,
a shock as I penetrated the
darkness.

            I never felt so Irish
as at that moment looking up
at the cloudless sky,
a pallid window.

I scrambled
up the crumbling sides
though I was its only tenant.

Elsewhere the stones canted
with bleak messages. Culann age 6,
Aoife 44, Emer 63, never forgotten,
always remembered, but completely abandoned.

Plastic weathered toys
stood in for griefs that once bit
like January winds from the sea.

In the nearby ruin of a stone chapel
rainwater stood in the stoup. A blessing
in waiting.
                Within, a flowered brassiere lay
draped in the grass, girlish, cheerful,
tossed off like the hatch of an egg.

I placed it in the beautifully dressed
arched window looking out toward the sea,
hanging there, a flag for the living.

 

 

 

 

Lee Jacobus is Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Connecticut (Storrs), where he taught poetry, Milton, Shakespeare, and modern Anglo-Irish literature. His poems have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, The Literary Review, Michigan Quarterly, Other Voices (Chicago), and elsewhere, beginning in 1962. His books include Crown Island, Volcanic Jesus, A World of Ideas, and Shakespeare: The Dialectic of Certainty. His first book of poems, Wildcat on the Shoreline, was published when he turned 88. He lives on the Connecticut shoreline with Joanna Jacobus, his wife of 65 years.