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.
Whispering the helping neighbours,
Directing them into easy rhythm,
They’re lilting voices-
Planting sweetness in my mind.
Forks in harmony,
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-
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:
There were crystals on the golden cocks,
Heaven smiled on well-made hay.