Thursday Poem

Nine Little Goats
Nuala Ni Dhomnail

It’s a cock’s foot of a night:
If I go on hanging my lightheartedness
Like a lavender coat on a sunbeam’s nail,
It will curdle into frogspawn.
The clock itself has it in for me,
Forever brandishing the splinters of its hands,
Choking on its middle-aged fixations.

Since the pooka fertilized the blackberries,
The year pivots on its hinges, breathing
Wintry gusts into our warmth.
Our bones grate like an unoiled
Rusty stable door,
Our teeth get pins and needles
As Autumn’s looming tide drowns
The endless shores of Spring.

Darkness will be dropping in
In the afternoons without an appointment,
A wolf’s bite at the windowpane,
And wolves too the clouds
In the sheepish sky.
You needn’t expect the wind
To put in her white, white paws
Before you open the door,
For she hasn’t the slightest interest
In you or your sore throat:
The solar system is all hers
To scrub like a floor if she pleases,
She’s hardly likely to spare her brush
On any of us, as the poison comes to a head
In the brow of a year
That will never come back.

So we might as well put in a match
To the peat briquettes
That the summer gave the grate,
And draw the sullen curtains tight
On the Family’s bad luck,
And sit with a library book,
Half-dozed by the television news,
Or roused by a game of chess,
Or a story, until
We are our own spuds,
Roasting in the embers.

Translated from the Irish by Medbh McGuckian From
Pharoaoh’s Daughter (Wake Forest University Press, 1998)