Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, 'November Wedding', and 'Beverly Downs'.
A member of the judging panel for Clones Film Festival, he has written a number of short film scripts and is currently working on a full-length script.
His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com
After the ward grows hushed,
broken vaguely by the creak of wheels,
whispers at the desk, a distant flush,
or the half-footfall
of a dragging leg, I sit and think
of you before your mind assumed its dark.
That flat bush by the gate
you leapt with barely a run-up, is a tree
so densely packed and twisted it must die
under its own weight.
Remembering how we bent its limbs like bows,
it's hard to grudge it that grotesque repose
except I find its calm
a kind of mockery of your hollowed state,
it leans aside and waits a final storm
while your forever night
remains undrawn, unmeasured. That a mind
should simply vanish, is beyond unkind
but what are we to do?
Say plainly this is how it was and is,
that whether we know or not, the same day passes,
but pay what reverence is due
to memory broken like a stepped-on shoot,
the dark-green tracery of withered roots.
A RUN OF DISTANT NOTES
Through corridors just wide enough for one,
walls cool and smooth, we file into a room
that once was two nuns' cells.
I look out at a February lawn,
grass roots split as if by an act of will
by snowdrops almost too frail to bloom.
Sick too long, the aunt who hasn't been
herself for thirty years, the aunt we knew;
swaddled in starch and drips,
her breath so shallow it may well have stopped,
her eyes dilate in light but give no clue
of what goes on within;
who long ago became a memory
even as she lost hers. This is the end,
this time, and no conjecture
on mental emptiness, that dried-up river,
gives any comfort; nor infinity:
the sun sets never to rise again.
But when thin morning breaks, she will at last
become complete and human as the dead,
more than she is at present, giving
us leave to remember how at first
she filled her years with music, slowly moving
toward the silence in her head,
and how, when all else failed, a run of distant
notes could stir something more - or less -
than memory; and how like smoke
it vanished. But that phrase, never forgotten
by those who heard it, lingers somewhere, like
a promise or a hope of bliss.
Now that the long forgetting is over,
let thoughtless earth receive you, as is proper,
but know that you have become entire
again, at last like every other.
Hands flow through gestures -
then the body dog-folds
and the back like Atlas holds
the world in posture.
Noon in the studio.
The floor is warm
to the toes and palms
of those who wish to go
into the East, or into a self
that will endure, as if
their own world, cleft
from shoulder to heel,
could be made whole
by the crane, the flower,
and a stretched, held hour
would heal that rift.
In a momentary light where every wall
is white, and day waits to sink,
this time in empty silence,
a drunk weaving home, his t-shirt
blue as a boy’s, carries in his head
a clutch of speckled eggs
lifted from a hedge on a morning
that never was, clotheslines riotously bright,
aerials gleaming like rocket-silver.
Against the gathering hill, he threads
between pavement cracks, avoiding flowers
whose names he doesn’t know.