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The Landscape's Singing

I implore the future to hear

the sweet music poetry picks

from the present, glinting

like sea glass reflecting light.

Words, lines and stanzas contain more

truth and beauty than damaged earth.

Youth and middle-age are gone,

more fleeting than memories kept

in journals left outside in all weathers.

The mind tries to preserve things

it lacks the ability to store,

creates images that get

blurry and grey like Gweebarra

fog at dawn. A beloved homeplace

seems as solid and lasting as granite,

able to forever preserve the sound

of Atlantic winds lashing the window,

the comforting scent of the oilcloth

on the kitchen table, family outlined

in shadow before the hearth. Everything

disintegrates. Yet I believe

in the otters, puffins and seals

frolicking beyond the waves. I shape

my yearning to the air of the singer,

hope for a fertile summer

writing poetry in the turf-shed,

whittling my life and loves into song. 

In the blue-pink twilight of the evening

I tune my ear to the landscape’s singing,

stretch out on my townland’s damp grass, pick

out the notes of the melody, attack

despair, beg the future to hear.

Note: This poem is a terminal utilizing the end-words from Seamus Heaney’s The Singer’s House.


Nathanael O'Reilly

Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian poet. His collections include Landmarks, Selected Poems of Ned Kelly, Dear Nostalgia, Boulevard, (Un)belonging and Preparations for Departure. His poetry appears in 125 journals & anthologies published in 15 countries. He is poetry editor for Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature. (Headshot by Celeste Jenkins-O'Reilly)


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