HAYMAKING IN CLARE

There is no other place I would rather be-

Than in Clare fields at haymaking:

Pyramids of gold stitched with love:

A calendar in June-

Where larks make Heavenly sounds!

Blackberry blossoms fill with adoring bees.

My Uncle Michael-

With his horse Jack drawn rake-

Gathering the hay in bunches:

His mind on Cromwell or Brian Boru:

The workhorse nagging the flies,

Longing for restful pastures.

My grandfather-

Whispering the helping neighbours,

Directing them into easy rhythm,

They’re lilting voices-

Planting sweetness in my mind.

Forks in harmony,

Cocks rising,

Masterpieces in the field:

The Angelus bell stopped the work,

And all prayed within themselves.

When the haggard field was done-

We went to the house-

For bacon cabbage and flowery potatoes-

With fresh buttermilk;

Apple and custard-

Swimming in lush cream-

Tea served with buns.

Then the banter;

Aunt Gertie called Paddy Sexton:

He sang a tragic song in Gaelic,

My eyes filled with tears:

Finbar Murphy played the tin whistle-

As Buck Scanlon danced a jig:

A silent command-

We headed for the front fields.

All around the summer sounds-

Invaded me:

Drowsily I drifted into stillness,

Found a brother in a dancing goldfinch,

And followed a frog to the stream.

The tea arrived:

We sat under a cock of sweet smelling hay,

Caps removed as if an ancient ritual:

Homemade bread and scented grass-

Set fire to my inner senses.

The talking started:

Violins of light filling the air-

Words bathing my young ears:

The music of voices;

Acorns of rhythm feeding my imagination-

That would ignite my future verse.

I sank into these hay fields-

Stretching in all directions-

From Mullagh to Milltown-

From the hills of Clare to the sea:

I was amongst my mother’s people.

When the day was done in the hayfield,

We left the cocks to their solitude:

Next morning-

There were crystals on the golden cocks,

Heaven smiled on well-made hay.