Poems and Poetry

In a Liminal Space | A Poem by Marie MacSweeney

Born during the famine
my seawoman ancestor set out regularly
into the Atlantic, southwards
and eastwards, towards Bristol,
trading metal and grain.

Though she lies quiet now
in the tomb at Ráth
my mind carries her about,
delicately as a caul,
sets her free on the high seas.

I am there too, at the binnacle,
manning the compass,
plotting our course westwards.
The name of our journey is mingling, or
daring, or dwelling with the things she loved.

In the sea there is no place
that is not her place.
Each journey is an alert
She respects the ocean’s stillness,
knows its savagery.

As waters rock beneath us
I nudge through her reticence,
amid flicker of whale pulse
and dolphin plunge, touch her heart,
sky sidling away in the wind,

and the notion I share with Kate, that this was our
first home,
that we crawled from its wet turbulence
aeons ago, limped across shores,

loved land later, with its trees and sighs.

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