i.m. Seamus Heaney
When they buried you in Bellaghy
I was somewhere else, out here
In Alghero, climbing the nuraghi fields
Where stones and more stones stand,
Life hardly changes, bushes bend
With the ways of the wind, sheep rest,
Tomatoes, figs are laid out to dry.
Up here with plants,
animals and wind,
I picked blackberries in your honour,
Gave voice to the lines from the poem:
Each Year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
Down from the mountainside, I lit a candle
At La ChiesaMisericordiae, dipped my finger
In the font of mercy.
Black Madonna of Nessebar
She is pearl of the Black Sea, shrouded
In frescoes, embedded in sweet smelling incense,
Alight with innumerable candles. She has been
Sentenced to silence for long periods, times when God
Was scarce on the ground. She is dark, her face
Has roots in the sun, flames from the stake still
Colour her complexion.
I recognise her
In the faces of old women, eyes shut,
Lips feeding on prayer. I hear her in the rhymes
Of school children, in the chatter of seagulls
From the rooftops. She is one with the pictures
Of the dead left hanging on doors, walls, trees …
At one with the strings of salt fish drying in the wind.
Every cobbled street leads to her and the sea.
Copyright by the Author
(Image by Sam Franza)