For Poetry Day Ireland, enjoy Once I Woke by Jean O’Brien.
Once I Woke
Even now there are places where a thought might grow ...
– Derek Mahon
in a bed on the other side of the world to a waterfall
of light. As sleep cleared from my eyes I recognised
a sheer wall of net curtains transformed
by sunlight, knew then I was in a larger space
than ever before; as if some sextant in my head
had shot the sun, worked out the angle and height of light,
moon and stars, divined that I was far from home.
I tumbled from bed, steadied myself, stood upright
in this new upended world. I checked to see if the water
in the basin curled Coriolis clockwise, a myth of water.
Water memory can hold for hours and then swirl away
withershins as you try to determine drain spin
and trace earth’s rotation and wonder if you had
ingested Devil’s Berries or Psilocybin.
How we cling to what we know and resist boldly going.
The novelty of umber earth burnished in light and tar roads
that stretch out and out waiting for us to write our story.
Blacktops open to the wide sky, low scrub and miles of bush
beyond the firebreak offer some perspective. At home dirt roads
wend their way up hill and down hemmed in by low stone walls
or cliffs or sight of sea and the lariat line of guide-rope horizon.
This is a place where a thought might grow though racked
by drought with the northern hemisphere reduced to a mere echo.
About The Poet: Jean O’Brien’s fifth collection, Fish on a Bicycle: New and Selected Poems, was reprinted by Salmon Poetry in October 2018. Her poem ‘Merman’ won the Arvon International in 2010. In 2017 she was awarded the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship and was recently shortlisted in the Voices of War Competition run by UCD.