Maria Wallace – Beyond Veils and Matter

Profile Maria Wallace LE Mag October 2018

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Beyond Veils and Matter, poems by Maria Wallace

Maria Wallace was born in Catalonia, but lived her teenage years in Chile. Later she married and settled in Dublin. She drew and painted all her life, though also took up the challenge of writing in a language not her own as a way to relieve some of the friction caused by her divided loyalties. In 1996 she founded Virginia House Creative Writers, a groups she still facilitates today. She has edited four anthologies of their work, the last one, to be launched in a couple of months, is a celebration to their twenty years existence. She has a BA in English and Spanish Literature, 2004, an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature, 2005. She has won many national and international poetry prizes, amongst them The Sunday Tribune Hennessy Literary Awards, 2006. Her work has been published in Ireland, England, Italy, Australia and Catalonia. In 2015 she participated in the ISLA Festival, a gathering of writers from Ireland, Spain, and Latin America. In 2010 she published ‘Second shadow’ and in 2014 ‘The blue of distance’, two bilingual poetry collections (English – Catalan) both her own work and both from Catalan publishing houses. She is the yearly judge of The Jonathan Swift Awards.

In Connacht

(Cromwell’s time)

He planted the spade in the ground,
said: ‘This is mine,
mine is this stony mountain slope.
I swear I’ll turn
this unforgiving wild place
to fruitful fields.
Here I’ll plant the seeds
of my future,
will work from sunrise to sunset,
till my days are done.’

He planted the spade in the ground,
said nothing, a photograph
speaks no words:
I have given him mine,
which I read from his rigid stance,
from the fierce look in his eyes.


No one can cage feelings,
drive upriver a tide,
stop rain,
sleet or snow from falling.

Impossible to stop
the perpetual spin of seasons,
the day and night battle
of death, birth and rebirth.

No one can count
the desert’s sand, expect
a reasonable response
from birdsong.

All we know is that bells peal
in a clamour of clashing,
that the sea’s answer
will invariably be: persist.

Sounds of a country track

The afternoon brims with word sounds:
on one side of this track sun-baked wild oats play
faint maraca music at wind’s whim,

on the other, canes whisper by a dried up stream,
old mysteries resonate in their reedy throats;
rain prayer murmurs bounce

from tree to tree. Scurrying lizards’ feet
crunch over dry grass,
the whirl of a metal sunflower windmill

cuts the sky’s shimmer, wills water for thirsty fields.
Above the swallows’ chirping, cicadas
deafen the air. Bees hum a pollen-laden effort.

Dusty tracks under my feet;
on them lines shape themselves,
fill their own spaces, become afternoon.

My word sounds are those
of the ordinary; this moment is not,
and I hold it tight.

Beyond veils and matter

What lies beyond the beyond
of all that is?
If it be the truth,
is that not a concept shifting
according to individual,
place and time?

Is there a universal truth
existing beyond that impenetrable
gossamer veil which allows
only death to go through it?

Perhaps beyond veils and matter
one may solely find
unspoken words waiting
to be given a sound.

Rattle dance

Because she has forgotten her summers
and grey skies only drizzle
wet greetings, she withdraws
from the window, sits for hours
with the squalid and the familiar.

Nothing stirs except her cigarette hand
and smoke ghosts who play
a rattle dance with her lungs.

© Maria Wallace

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