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Eleanor Hooker – From my Hazel Wood

Eleanor Hooker LE P&W March 2019

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From my Hazel Wood, and other poems by Eleanor Hooker

Eleanor Hooker has published two poetry collections with Dedalus Press: A Tug of Blue (2016); The Shadow Owner’s Companion (2012). She is completing her third collection and a novel.  Eleanor holds an MPhil (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin, an MA (Hons) in Cultural History from the University of Northumbria, and a BA (Hons 1st) from the O.U. Eleanor is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS). She’s a helm for Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. Her poems appear in literary journals internationally, including: POETRY magazine, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, Poem: International English Language Quarterly (University of Roehampton, London), The Stinging Fly, Punch Magazine (India), Poetry Society Newsletter, Irish Times newspaper, Poethead, And Other Poems, Backstory, Swinburne University Australia, Poetry Film Live. Her poems have been broadcast on RTE Radio 1 For more visit Eleanor’s website www.eleanorhooker.com


From my Hazel Wood

Because a fire was in my head
Yeats

I row Kibihee out of the boathouse –
I want to see my home from the other side.

February’s sun is a trick of yellow and cold,
enough to offer no comfort to the day.

Sky stares at sky swimming in the lake –
its blue hums against my bow as sky-water jumps

the gunwale to rest at my feet, and repeat
the riddles of pike and gulls. An icy north wind raises

her hand against my starboard beam, but I’ve no time
for bullies who would dare to plot my course,

and pull against the push to port. Dromaan Harbour
is an open hollow that echoes only hush; the lake

that fills the concrete jetties here is sullen and grey.
I tuck Kibihee into the farthest pen, settle her alongside,

bow, stern and springs, then set out through
East Clare. I walk the country lanes until I reach

forest paths, climb untracked boglands to the rise
of Sliabh Aughty – a treeless topworld, whose earth

furniture is covered with snow-sheets and snow-lace
doilies. The blue above, dowsed in pure rimed air,

frosts my lungs. Buried deep beneath my feet are our restless
famine dead, and the courtly breeze that cuts through me,

is Lady Echtge of the Tuatha dé Danann,
for whom these hills are named.

I look back.

On the other side I see Devils Bit, Keeper, then lower
to Lough Derg I trace the curve of Youghal Bay,

locate the Mountaineer, Ryan’s Point, Barrack Bay,
until I find a synapse in the Hazel wood, and there,

nestled in particular isolation, is my home, gilded
between two points, my lake-shore dwelling.

And may you be in this house
as the music is in the instrument.

I turn away, walk the bog-path south to Lough Hill.
In the shadow of Bohatch Dolmen, I picnic

on feta-bread and flasked coffee. A sea eagle hovers
into wind, yellow beaked, yellow booted, elemental

above this hushed landscape. I remain still –
attuned to the ancient grammar this day repeats.

The Absence of Colour.

We sleep in jam jars on
the top shelf in the scullery.
Well there are a lot of us,
and besides, it’s the warmest room.
I like to squint through glass,
at Grandpa’s rainbow head,
but not at Granny’s prunes,
that sit like laughing slugs
on the yellow saucer on the sill.
They keep me regular, she says,
like clockwork. But I know that –
she owns one big, one small hand.
Her teeth have a jar of their own.
I like her tiny teeth –
at night they tell dark forest tales
in black and white, and during the day,
they speak from her mouth in colour.
Each morning, to reach my jar, I stand
on the back of the red chair
to let myself out. Sometimes I laugh,
that way they won’t notice my other shadows
clambering down, and have one less thing to worry about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stitched to a Witch

With lead fastened to your ankles,
at the water’s drowning edge
you know the art of falling –
shots down the double barrel
bang-bang
I hit the ground, bang bang
That awful sound, bang bang
My baby shot me down
In the barren curve,
deep in this velvet chamber of horror,
lucid and yellow with life,
you snag at the shrill edge,
in that cave-fall of loneliness,
inside the hard shell of a dream,
and stitched to a witch.


© Eleanor Hooker