Photograph: E.E. Nobbs
But I Should Never Think of Spring
(After Hoagy Carmichael)
You brought a ghost with you, her prints
in the softening earth, her snowy breath
on the windowpane, on the mirrors, but mostly
clinging to the air between us, to our lips,
to the voice of Hoagy Carmichael as he sang
‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ – you didn’t know
his music but fell when you heard that, saying
you had never heard such a song, saying you wanted
to hear all his songs, your eyes full of soft rain dripping
from leaves, your voice full of sheltering in her arms –
I lay beside you and listened, looking into the dark eyes
of the fox, the dark eyes of the owl and Hoagy singing
it’s not the pale moon that excites me that thrills
and delights me oh no it’s just the nearness
of you, the nearness, you listening for a name,
or someone’s laugh that is the same.
Saint Brigid’s Day has come and gone
and I am unbound from my tomb, adrift
in chambered earth, listening for sounds –
dull drubbing of dryads in leaves,
twitching of bone-dry twigs, dripping
of ice-water from rock.
But nothing moves in the earth above
my head. I feel the dull weight of trees,
mute prisoners on a hill, hacked back
for new growth. The sad machinery of Spring
has not yet begun its slow picking open
of cauterised hide, letting pistils weep again
feel the palsy of frost-scarred stem.
From my grave I look upon the crucified forms –
rags of sycamore against a mouse-grey sky,
stumpy limbs of butchered lime, claws of ash
frozen in their grasping at air. All is waiting,
feeding on the food of the dead. What hope
for us, rooted in Hades, unfurling,
forever opening our palms
to Demeter’s elusive touch, reaching to the mother
who cannot save us now, did not save us then,
when we set out across the field of flowers?
From ‘The Fado House’ (Dedalus Press, 2012)
Mary Noonan is an Irish poet and academic. She lives in Cork, and works as lecturer in French at University College Cork. Her poems have been published widely in print and online and poems have featured in The Alhambra Poetry Calendar (2010) and Best Irish Poetry 2010. In 2007, she was selected to take part in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series in Dublin and was invited to read at the Poetry Hearings festival in Berlin in 2009. The manuscript of The Fado House was awarded the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in June 2010.
3 thoughts on “Mary Noonan’s spring”
Two strong poems. Love the use of Hoagy Carmichael. And the startling angle on the Persephone myth – showing that “sad machinery of Spring” so that I can imagine how it feels to be still stuck underground, waiting…
And thanks for making use of my photo to go with the poems, Abi 🙂
Reblogged this on Carolyn O' Connell.
Very powerful and full of tradition