On the map it was marked Killary harbour,
that tiny village at the sea lough’s side.
A church, a school, some simple cottages,
a closed hotel, the craft shop and a bar.
Remote and beautiful, the mountains plunged
close to the water’s edge, the road precarious
across hillsides. A haunt of fishermen and fish.
In Killary I met an artist and knew
at once that we would have been friends.
Her pictures hung around the craft shop walls,
her Art diplomas too, stoutly framed;
I recognised her bitterness.
People said that her paintings were good
but they bought Aran sweaters.
We talked for a while of deep momentous things
and when I left she handed me a pendant,
a polished amethyst on a silver chain.
We had only met that day and she gave me
an amethyst, the stone of serenity,
carved from mountain rocks where oceans
had washed from the beginning of time.
A gift for you she said, smiling:
and for a moment bright waves
of understanding danced between us,
lighting our faces.
Because we would have been friends
she gave me an amethyst, the stone of serenity.
And I wear it as a talisman against
the pain and disappointments of the world.
Talking to Myself
As I sit here in solitude
holding the piece of amethyst
and whisper the name of Achill Island
colours begin weaving in the air,
soft purple, blues, aquamarine
and deep sea green with silver.
The shades of cloud, sky, sands,
and ocean wild with surf.
And on my skin I feel
the roughened scab where this stone
was clawed from the old mountain.
When Akhmatova was exiled
by her enemies and not allowed to write
she stored words in her head:
and had only to murmur the word Apple
she said, for her room to flow instantly
And this room too becomes a jewelled bay
as I sit here, talking to myself
in the dog days, before the onset of Winter.