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blighted -- abandoned

abandoned house on the edge of the sea
county mayo


                    Your name came to you seaward
                    upon a ship returning home from Boston
                    where your mother never settled.
                    All those brownstone houses starving out the sky,
                    streets paved with streets, no gold
                    of whin, or corn at saving, or celandine.
                    Against the tide she bought a passage
                    on a ship still marked with famine, typhus
                    back to places that she hungered for,
                    kept hidden in her shawl your dead sister
                    until they docked in Cobh and buried her.

                    Before the year was out
                    her name was put to use again.
                    You carried the weight of that ship on your back
                    the cold backwash of her eyes,
                    the way the streets of Holyhoke
                    seeped into your tight mouth
                    the sea streeled out from your hair.
                    you heard the cry of her along the lazy beds
                    as you barrowed swill to the pigs
                    caught her on the wing of salt air, your body listing.

                    Kept hidden in your shawl 
                    a woman longing
                    to fall upon the wither of that name.
                    each letter blighted one by one
                    the sea to open up and swallow them
                    to stand at its edge and howl.

                    by Geraldine Mills
                    from "Toil the Dark Harvest"
                    copyright 2003
                   (with permission)


  1. I had the good fortune to meet Geraldine Mills, poet from Galway and from Mayo, today in Falmouth and Monument Beach, yesterday in Pocasset. my 2011 calendar had made its way to Geraldine in Galway, and her hostess (and calendar supplier) on her visit here brought her to my studio. with just a brief consideration of her wonderful poems, and with her permission, I am trying a juxtaposition of her poem with my picture, because in me at least the feelings summoned up by each are the same.

  2. Dear Robert,
    thanks for the comments on my blog.
    This publication is wonderful. The composition is always very good and the warm colors of this photo please me very much.

  3. thank you so much Antonio. robert