I chose your grave clothes with care,your favourite stripey shirt,your blue cotton trousers.They smelt of woodsmoke, of October,your own smell there too.I chose a gansy of handspun wool,warm and fleecy for you. It isso cold down in the dark.No light can reach you and teach youthe paths of wild birds,the names of the flowers,the fishes, the creatures.Ignorant you must remainof the sun and its work,my lamb, my calf, my eaglet,my cub, my kid, my nestling,my suckling, my colt. I would spintime back, take you againwithin my womb, your amniotic lair,and further spin you backthrough nine waxing monthsto the split seeding momentyou chose to be made flesh,word within me.I'd cancel the love feastthe hot night of your making.I would travel aloneto a quiet mossy place,you would spill from me into the earthdrop by bright red drop.
“Child Burial” from AS IF BY MAGIC: SELECTED POEMS: by Paula Meehan.
Published by Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2020 and Wake Forest University Press, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Paula Meehan.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Paula Meehan was born in Dublin where she still lives. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Eastern Washington University in the U.S. She has received many awards for her work including The Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry 2015, and a Cholmondelay Award for Geomantic in 2017. She was elected to Aosdána, the Irish Academy for the Arts, in 1996. She was Ireland Professor of Poetry, 2013 – 2016. Her public lectures from these years, Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them, is available from UCD Press, Dublin. As If By Magic: Selected Poems, was published by Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2020, and Wake Forest University Press, North Carolina, 2021.
"In As If by Magic, Meehan’s selected poems show a life dedicated to mastering that pattern, ‘tongues of flame’ ever-present in the passionate, exacting poems which fan out from her distinctive Dublin city childhood… But the pattern, the beat is central, ever developing throughout this, fine substantial volume."
—Martina Evans, The Irish Times
"It is as if anger, grace, and wit have been hammered white-hot into the finest shining tool and ornament."
"Paula Meehan is that rare and precious thing—a vocational poet of courage and integrity."
—Carol Ann Duffy