Ann Egan

Patrick’s Bell

He holds the bell in his hand,
mutes its ringer to drumlins’ silence,
looks about him, sees peals of smoke
rise in a distant valley like a twist
of blind chance that has lured him back.
Hunger, tormentor goblin of stone
blizzards, once ate his very bones.
Cold, an angry eagle whose eyrie
was smashed, battered his heart.
But never a thirst on his tongue,
a silver stream flows by silently.
A boy once, he had climbed clouds
to its source, one drop on an old stone.
Exhausted, the unfed child dropped down.
Intricacies of stone unfolded like a book
of heaven time with mother and father.
Glad songs, high words, mountains in bloom,
fowl in the pot filled their stone home,
memories of lost time wrung his guts
as he cried out in his agony,
screamed out the hell of his spirit,
for this kingdom’s appalling beauty
where trickles of rainbow water fell
on glories of gold and copper pebbles -
their magnificence bore down on him.
He felt the burden of the beings
of this forsaken land settle on him,
until Patrick carried the world’s guilt.

Grandfather’s Talk

When noise rises like wind
blowing across the bog,
cartwheels turn stones
back to their beginnings
beyond the boundaries
where one day I will go
following the sounds
to hear my grandfather.
His shirt pressed white,
eyes looking beyond talk
to peace for long sentences,
he settles silver spectacles,
ready for your attention.
His suit as exact as he is,
tall, spare and distant,
words for grown-ups alone,
willing to write their letters.
Helpful man, for children silence,
his face worries at noise,
playthings are gathered up,
banished to frontiers, prairies.
Each day he sweeps the floor,
brush in his right hand,
like a pen with a poor nib, still
he composes with fluid strokes –
a wordless conversation.