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Maria Wallace – Looking at the rain

P Maria Wallace LE P&W Vol 2 2019

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Poems by Maria Wallace

Born in Catalonia, she spent her teenage years in Chile; later settling in Ireland. She has a BA in Spanish and English Literature, and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature. She has won many national and international prizes, amongst them The Hennessy Literary Awards. Her work has been published in Ireland, England, Italy, Australia and Catalonia, in book collections and magazines. She has published two bilingual poetry tomes (English-Catalan): Second shadow and The blue of distance. She founded Virginia House Creative Writers, which she still facilitates. Included in the UCD poetry archives, now she facilitates a weekly writers group there. She judges prose and poetry for the Jonathan Swift Awards. She has taught French and Spanish, and as a painter has been commissioned to work on different subjects. ‘The Stations of the Cross’ in the Oratory of The Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght is amongst her work.


Looking at the rain

Byron left for Greece.
I can’t move from here,
and cigarettes will kill me
before I give them up.

It has rained for days.
Women are in their winter clothes.
The fridge is empty
and my belly full of beer.

All tracks leave behind
a story. Will mine say I’m alone
because I betrayed her trust?

Nothing to do but look at the rain.
I’m cold, need food and fuel
for the stove; I only have
a tinkle of coins in my pocket.

It hardly rains in Greece
and women show their figures.
Byron knew what he was doing.

White needlework

An etching of clay,
branch and leaf lines her face,
wizened and alone,
an old woman sits
with her back against sun-burned stone.

Does she still rejoice when twittering
swallows embroider the sky,
when wheat ripens,
grape swells and sweetens
bathed by sunlight?

In the valley below bell voice litanies
entwine with the needlework
her bony fingers fashion,
the sacred mysteries
of white vestments, and forgiveness.


I remember

I’m settled now,
but I remember
hunger pains,
ice under my feet,
smoke filled eyes
round a fire, sparks that looked like spirits
disappearing in the dark,
roads that had no end.
I remember
singing
to vanish endless hours under the stars.
I’m a settled woman now;
wind tussled hair is all that remains
from that past.

Tempestuous waters

Her mouth forming words
only the wind can hear,
a woman walks the shore,
a silver urn tight against her chest,
red mac billowed by
sea-chilled winds.

Incoming waves
stop short of her black boots,
sea spray clings to her clothes,
hair to her scalp.

After a while she retraces her steps,
will come back some windless day
when his ashes will not be blown
back into her face.


Shepherd

i.m. Fernando Pessoa, (1888, 1935),
relevant Portuguese poet and writer

I’m the keeper of a large herd,
a shepherd whose sheep have jumped
the enclosure
and roam where they shouldn’t,
trample over pristine gardens,
nibble at delicate blooms.

Unruly as them, my thoughts
are the sheep I’m unable to pen,
domesticate or teach,
thoughts that become feeling keys
opening doors in my eyes,
mouth and fingertips;
doors through which reality
rushes in and is
a minute by minute search
for lost sheep
to make sense
of life and new dawns.

Full moon

Waves heave and swell,
run over the shoreline,
wet sand exhales;
foxes yip,
night spells bring no peace.

Bone cold,
clothes salty brine damp,
he walks back home
where he’ll have to face
the stories told by
all those empty rooms.


© Maria Wallace