Poem of the Week, by Eileen Sheehan

This quote is from my novel All Rivers Flow to the Sea. It pops up here and there around the world, on Instagram pages and Pinterest boards, translated into various languages. It’s taken on a life of its own, one I couldn’t have predicted. But I do remember writing these words, how the sentences spun themselves out as if they were trying to tell me something important. This poem feels the same way.

Holding the Note, by Eileen Sheehan

Singing class began with me being asked
to sing the scale. The class would laugh.

I never laughed because I already knew
I could not hold a tune, except inside my head.

For almost half a term I dreaded
Thursday mornings, until I told my mother

how I was used as an anti-tuning fork
to demonstrate how not to climb the scale.

My mother simplified it all with her advice,
Girl, on Thursday next, don’t sing.

So, next class I met her gaze dead on,
sealed my mouth tight shut. No matter

how many times she ordered me,
I allowed not one sound escape my throat.

Silence spread across the room
like a held note. I knew I had her then

for silence was my realm, not hers.
She rammed the tuning fork against

the wooden desk and instructed the
best singer in the room to lead

the group. My mother never asked a thing
when I got home but she sang, around the house,

a song that had my name in it:
and the girl inside the song could sing.

I carry every word and turn to The Spinning
Wheel: inside my head I sing it still.

For more information about Eileen Sheehan, please click here.


Words by Winter: my podcast

Poem of the Week, by Patrick Cavanaugh

The Dubliners
– Patrick Kavanagh

On Raglan Road of an autumn day
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might one day rue
I saw the danger and I passed
Along the enchanted way
And said let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day

On Grafton Street in November
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worth of passion’s pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts
And I not making hay
Oh I loved too much and by such by such
Is happiness thrown away

I gave her gifts of the mind
I gave her the secret signs
Known to the artists who have known
The true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint I did not stint
I gave her poems to say
With her own name there
And her own dark hair
Like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet
I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had loved not as I should
A creature made of clay
When the angel woos the clay
He’ll lose his wings at the dawn of day

For more information on Patrick Kavanagh, please click here: http://www.tcd.ie/English/patrickkavanagh/life.html

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