Tuesday Poem

Tinfoil

o aluminium roll,
o silver scroll

confined in
this cupboard,

bound in cardboard,
restrained behind

a jagged blade that tears
lengths away to mute

the bowls and
jars of the fridge —

o small,
spare life.

I would free it, the tinfoil. I’d lift it from its cabinet and make
a river of it, a smooth, grey sheen released through the house.

At the summit of the stairs, the source would spurt up
from Gougane Barra, setting a mountain stream to gush, and I’d lift it

and give it a push, I’d let the bright waters of the Lee flow down
the slope, to run a silver ribbon through the hall. Under the bridge

of a couch, I’d watch shadows of salmon and brown trout swim in
and out of riverweed. On a moonlit night, a man might stand there

with his son, the light of their torches poaching the waters. If the child
whispered “Oh look, the river’s smooth as tin foil!” his father

would hush him quickly, finger to lip, and turn to choose a hook.
The waters would surge onwards, swirling under doors to the city

-kitchen. Where gulls screech and shriek high, I would thrust swifter
currents that’d make islands of table legs and riverbanks of walls.

I’d give the river a voice to hum through the culverts that run under
cupboards, making of itself a lilting city song, its waters speckled

with gloom-shadows of mullet. I would put a single seal there,
lost, and make a red-haired girl the only person who’d see him.

I would tug that river back, then, the weight of all its stories
dragging after it, and haul it in loud armfuls all the way back to me.

Shrunken,
crumpled,

torn, I’d
fold it, then,

and close
it back in

its press
again.

by Doireann Ní Ghríofa
from Oighear
publisher: Coiscéim, Dublin, 2017

Translation: 2017, Doireann Ní Ghríofa
First published on Poetry International, 2017
.

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