Aoife Casby – Shrine

98

We have been lifetimes constructing, not ourselves,
but the make-up of the place we thought we ought to be.
Offered magic to wells,

influence to the painful line of drumlins
defeating sky’s explicit edge; to the scour of trees
the hint of a soul, as if we understood the greying land.

Now google yourself, yourself and carnality, you and red,
and land. Evoke ancestors who preyed on the sun over scurfy maps,
calling God and bargaining. Wishing they’d been overheard

by somebody who could say no no no don’t go that way,
leave the tautology of wells, water, mud; abandon the truth
you think is in the way rain falls, or doesn’t. Give up

ideas of Gods, the prayer that you are not alone.
And where will you go now that you suspect the Virgin
has revealed herself as human?

Maybe re-trawl the continent of internet look-
ing for the place to be – beneath a frayed fog
on marshy ground miles from here, land scarred

by faith’s disappearance.
Ok, then you are ready to take a walk
onto the roof, the tower, steeple; see the ruined

cottage, school. Watch how land lies and,
suddenly it is Autumn. The fragile
pumpkins wait in a ceramic bowl

full of the way they used our meagre sun, salty air.
The end of summer ladybird is tired. But red. God’s
little cow. She hurts. And from the spiked fern

a skylark rises. Old headlines
keep coming back, numbers of dead, miracles.
And we have this: the careless garden,

weeds between rows of beets, carrots on their wilt.
Why is the virgin wearing a red cloak when all we saw was blue.
Why did we do this? Why did we dream it could be different?

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Aoife Casby
Aoife Casby’s short fiction and poetry has been published in “The Dublin Review”, “The Stinging Fly”, “Banshee”, ‘Noir by Noir-West’ (Arlen House), “Ropes”, “The Cúirt Annual”, “Whispers and Shouts”, “West47”, “Criterion”, “The Cork Literary Review”, “Divas anthology” (Arlen House), “The Sunday Tribune”, “Cyphers” and others. She was the winner of “The Doolin Short Story Prize 2017” (judged by Tramp Press) and has been long listed for the “Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Award” and the “Fish Short Story Prize”. She has been awarded literature bursaries from the Irish Arts Council and Galway County Council. She is completing a PhD at Goldsmith’s University, London.