Bear for Spring
She will be punch-drunk,
rheumy-eyed but ready
to leave the maudlin warmth
of the deep dark den.
Shuffling off three cubs bent
as commas around her,
they have grown but are still children
with harsh lessons ahead.
Their heartbeats thrum in a rhythm slow
then quicken and beckon in their low thunder,
parsed by the echoes of all the past lightning
and the fresh flash of light in their eyes.
The air has lost the chill it borne,
moss is abundant underfoot
and fungi has been given its head,
the ground shivers green.
She pads towards the river
to slake her thirst, the cubs follow,
nostrils flaring and remembering
winter is always pursued by spring,
they cross their internal wildernesses,
expanding primal scent, searching
the lattices of the roused forest
to find their wildness again.
It was too dangerous to whale at night
so we found space below deck to etch
markings on hewn flutes from off white
tusks, clean now of the briny pink flesh.
I draw you there, face and curved neck,
raised up by the rubbed in candle black,
in a garland frame. Mottled ivory flecks
where the needle slipped, open a crack.
We have flensed many but need more,
the hot rendering smell on deck coats
us all; the hand who threw the harpoon
to me, barreling up the oil to take ashore.
It’s terrifying when they rear up near the boats
But we always overcome, wailing is their tune.
A Bellowing of Bullfinches
wakes the innocent part of me
and that drags the guilty half with it.
They come though no one knows
who or why they have been called.
Regardless they are here, I hear how one
picks off where another finishes,
turning mere notes into melodies,
in a sky arrayed with medleys of birdsong.
The selfish element of me doesn’t know
these songs of grace, resents the interruption,
but the part that wins this time listens,
listens with both ears and mute tongue
to the beauty of this ancient angelus,
pushing the window further open.
the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award in 2018 and The Trim Poetry competition in 2019.
His poetry collection An Experience on the Tongue is out now with Doire Press.