Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Down by the River

Every town I've lived in has been on a river - I was born on a town on the Liffey, which enters the sea in Dublin. From age 3 til 21, I lived in Limerick, at the mouth of the Shannon, Ireland's longest (and most majestic) river. At 21, I moved to live in Sligo, where I was lucky enough to live in a house overlooking a lake just where it joined the Garravogue river. That was where I lived when I met my husband. While we moved to live in another part of the town, the river was a presence during the early years of our marriage, and when my son was born and during his first 9 years of life. Then, 12 years ago, we moved to live in Donegal, and the river in our town (the Swilly) is a less dramatic presence in the town, but still, when I catch a glimpse any time I drive out of town, it soothes me. Here, it makes its way to the sea, and if I walk far enough up my road, I come to where I can make my way to its banks.

The only "River" poem I've written (that I can recall) brings 3 of these rivers together. As a ritual of release, after my marriage ended, and after I had had my long plait (braid) cut, I brought one strand to each of the 3 rivers and let them go.


The Shannon was a rushing greedy swirl,
grabbing my offering, tugging it in a whirl,
pulling that first strand towards the salt,
tearing into dark and deep places.

The Garravogue curled towards where I stood,
welcomed my gift, held it only a moment
before the sinking, the drift to oblivion,
the dropping down, the loss.

The gentle Swilly, wide and kind
has taken the last years to its tide,
given me the clouds, the moon,
sweeping birds that flow to her line.

These waters are the westward flow,
the waters of my days, my life.
I give them the traces of our years,
three strands, unbraided:

beginning, middle, end
of me as wife.


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At 31/5/07 9:41 am, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Said and poignant. Three rivers juxtaposed with each phases of life offered as plait. I like the new approach.

At 31/5/07 12:32 pm, Blogger Becca said...

How wonderfully you've woven the three rivers and their different personalities into your life story and that time of casting off an old life and beginning a new.

Very touching poem, yet hopeful and strong as well.

At 31/5/07 12:52 pm, Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

I like the personalities of the rivers here and I like the idea of letting something that is past go free on the river. I'm not ready to cut off my hair yet though!

At 31/5/07 1:03 pm, Blogger twitches said...

Wow - love that ending. Very powerful.

At 31/5/07 2:08 pm, Blogger deirdre said...

Ritual is so powerful - the image of letting go into the river waters is beautiful. I like this poem.

At 31/5/07 2:33 pm, Blogger Rob Kistner said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 31/5/07 2:43 pm, Blogger Rob Kistner said...

WOW!! This is a powerful and stirring bit of writing!

I have always loved the mystery of rivers, their constancy, the adventures they promise, their going to far away places -- their depth of beauty, their power.

You've conjured all of that for me in this piece.

You've also touched, with your ceremony, the rejuvenating nature of rivers. I trust you found closure.

What a beautiful piece of writing.

Thank you!

At 31/5/07 2:55 pm, Blogger pepektheassassin said...

Yes! And these river's names are in themselves wonderful! How lucky you've been to live by such rivers.

At 31/5/07 3:10 pm, Blogger Tammy said...

This was an amazing act of closure. I really loved this poem because it speaks to a fresh start.

At 31/5/07 3:25 pm, Blogger Caroline said...

Wow you told me about this and its fabulous to read about it again - I think it was a wonderful way to mark the stages. And to say goodbye.

At 31/5/07 4:31 pm, Blogger Amber said...

Wow! This is wonderful. Irish prose. ;)

I think I need to live near water like this, as well. Very soothing to me.


At 31/5/07 4:38 pm, Blogger lila said...

What a wonderful poem honoring your life and the phases you have lived through...time passing as a river flowing...and the strands of your experiences being braided together to make a strong life!

At 31/5/07 6:36 pm, Blogger chicklegirl said...

I really felt the violence of the first stanza, especially "tearing into dark and deep places". This was so eloquent.

At 31/5/07 7:10 pm, Blogger jim said...

The naming runs so deeply with these rivers: old friends, old identities, and the braiding metaphor works so rightly. A beautiful unraveling.

At 1/6/07 6:19 am, Blogger Catherine said...

That's a wonderful and powerful ritual, beautifully described. We have braided rivers in New Zealand - I'm still searching for a way to use that adequately in a poem.

At 1/6/07 11:38 pm, Anonymous tinker said...

What a touching poem - and ritual gesture (cutting your braid and leaving a piece at each river). I think acknowledging life changes in a meaningful way, as you did, is courageous and powerful - and beautiful.

At 3/6/07 5:57 am, Blogger Wenda said...

What they said! Thank you!


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