Beneath the white cap of Christmas frost.
The ones without hope, without shelter,
Shiver in the hollow of the cold.
Terrified at the hunger upon them,
Small birds peck at emptiness.
Here in the snow, redwings from the East
Search in the frosted absences.
From the dark heights of a fir tree
The magpie’s greedy eye observes
The songbirds’ growing panic
When a fat rat sends them scurrying.
It is the small bird that struggles
While the predator takes his ease.
In this blank hardness without mercy
Will they find even a worm’s worth of hope?
It is the berries of ivy and holly
Who give the wren its bed and board;
Buds glistening under the frosty cap
Are the waiting June where songbirds are.
by Bríd Ní Mhóráin
from Mil ina Slaoda
publisher: An Sagart, Dingle, 2011
translation: 2012, Thomas McCarthy