Bernadette Gallagher – Punta del Papagayo

Gallagher LE P&W 4 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four Nov-Dec 2023.

Punta del Papagayo, poems by Bernadette Gallagher.

Punta del Papagayo

rises out of the sea
in a mist of sand.

A buoy names the place,
holds on against the tide,

the squalls and high waves.
Flotsam drifts past;

a motorboat makes light
of the waves

moves like a pencil
across a page.

The balcony is empty:
only footprints

in the sand remain.
Wind makes its way

across the desert,
across the open sea,

across the earth.

Near Ring’s Farm County Cork

A new-born calf calls for its mother,
a goldfinch and mate dance in mid-air.

We talk of war and peace,
walk along the frontline; a line

so fine we cannot find it —
maybe we have already crossed over.

Cuckooflower waves in the wind,
spring-water pools in the cow’s footprint.

Hedgehog, fox, and badger
cross and criss-cross these fields

we call Willie’s or Jimmy’s or Jack’s
as the calf stumbles on all fours feeling his way.

Varanasi and beyond

I remember a time when women wore mantillas
in the House of God.

I remember a time when men wore robes all the way
to the ground.

I remember a time when women were swathed in black
from head to toe, and underneath blues, red, purple, and gold.

I remember a time when boys wore short trousers and girls,
cotton dresses, all sewn by their mothers.

I remember a photo — my grandmother before she was a mother,
starched white dress, almost regal.

I remember another photo — her holding a hen in her hands
standing with her husband outside a thatched cottage.

I remember a time when my father rowed a boat
from the Duach out to the open sea.

I remember a time when two young boys rowed
across the Tigris with a woman in a sleeveless dress.

I remember a time when, before sunrise,
burial pyres burned along the shore.

© Bernadette Gallagher

Bernadette Gallagher lives in County Cork, Ireland. Her poetry is published in, among others, Agenda, Crannóg, The Stinging Fly, The North, Stony Thursday, Dreich, The Frogmore Papers, Southword, University College Dublin Poetry Archive and Words Lightly Spoken podcast. She has received awards from the Arts Council of Ireland and Cork County Council.

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