A busy bobbing, scarce noted, half heeded,
mid-distant in the dahlia bed; a wagtail,
donning camouflage of cast-out ash,
a greyer rouge, perhaps? Next day I grew
curious, questioned its persistence,
reached for binoculars, marked the
primrose yellow of a willow warbler.
She scratched, not ash but hoovered thrash,
had found, indeed, therein, a vein
rich in moulted terrier hair; ideal
for her hidden lair by Smerlagh’s stream.
I focused in; her nib agape
with glinting fibres, no tangled tousle here,
but, aligned and paralleled, tanned sheaves
drawn and stranded by beak alone.
A Kalahari visitor alights by chance,
on Kerry’s far-off field; affirms
awesome nature’s happy happenstance.
The Lost Field
Abandoned this ten years, a garden
that once fed a dozen, its gap
clogged by hawthorn, cluttered by briar.
I hacked and chopped and slashed
for an hour or more, heedless
of blood and scratch and gash, blind
to blister, tear and thorn, eager
as Livingstone – a venturesome child —
breathless in pursuit of the new.
And now, with final slash of hook
the lost field is revealed,
its grasses regenerated, again
and again, matted and tangled
and layered; its blackberry strings
stitched through wild whitethorn,
holding in, keeping out. A pheasant
explodes from her lair,
cracks a decade’s silence
and guides the eye to new horizons.
Mike Gallagher, an Achill Island writer, has been published and translated worldwide. He won the Michael Hartnett Viva Voce award in 2010 and 2016, the Desmond O’Grady International award in 2012, and was shortlisted for the Hennessy award in 2011. His collection, Stick on Stone, was published by Revival Press.