Celtic Junction Arts Review

Poem: Distance in the Eyes of My Great-Grandmother Lizzie

Maeve Reilly

Those zz’s in your name were the sawtooth blades that felled the forest fastness.

Your ash black hair was the midnight smoor of a Leitrim townland hearth flame.  
Your nose the door of the bothán forced, the wall, the roof beam broken. 
The collar of your dress, the lice laced mast of the human ballasted famine ship.
The line of your lips the flat plain’s edge where the settlered Minnesota sun set  

—or the seal of silence, the stories not said as Gaeilge. The sound 
of your skirt on the narrow stair was the swish of the tail of the fox in the snare.  

Your wide blue eye was a crystal ball that refused to spell the future. 
The Roman cross hung round your neck was a curse incanted backwards. 
Your young face was a death mask graven pending April’s blizzard.  

My grandfather Jim, your youngest one, was a heart transplant that pumped 
strong blood when he spoke of you.