The firstborn was handed back to them
in a small cask not much bigger than
a shoebox only wooden no more about it
they took it home by pony and trap
wasn’t the river in flood at the gate?
they had to climb down and wade through it
and she went alone with him
to the corner of a field below the house
a dry shaded place where he opened a grave
for it was April then and the pinkish
blossoms of whitethorn were emerging
and they lifted it low together
onto sods of damp earth
placed holy water with it
and everything she could to lay
a holy innocent to rest
as far as giving the boy a name
it was Martin the brother in Chicago
and when it came to saying good-bye
he had to draw her away she was so
lonely that shook him while
he covered it with clay for up to then
never a care but a demon for style
high heels you’ve never seen the like
though she gave birth again
she was often seen alone in that field

by Catherine Phil MacCarthy
from The Invisible Threshold
Publisher: Dedalus Press, Dublin