The Shoreline to Sídh



by Kathryn M. Mullan



She was illumined in a night of cold wet winter,

    A safe place in gray gusts, and in a love breath, she was flamed.


In a land of silver mystery, of blood-wars,

Of shops and ships and stars,

Life edged with fire and laughter—

A land of ghost-bombed baby carriages,

Drum haunts and soft songs humming lulls.


Does she remember now what her mother sang,

Or was it he who had sung to her then?  

While she was still growing within, moving,

Getting ready for new, her mother’s original home returning.


Away from the lace curtains that framed the scene there,

The flat, the Irish family name, and its “Catholic spelling,”

   Asked in every shop, on the streets, on corners as night fell,

       every suspicious mind knowing then.

Away from the land that seemed never even really

       to belong to her father.


First child of the other world to be born here in the new,

     She breathed the story, the song, the fairy tale, and the lure of gray.

The passion, the mist, the wind over the sharp Aran cliffs

   Diving deep to an ocean below,

 that he had never told her about, until she asked and asked again.


Or perhaps a forgotten gust he had breathed in while cycling,

The landscape fresh,

a breath that found its way to her new lungs—

     lining her inside, fresh green that summer.




A girl whose life spanned seas, whose soul arced the Atlantic skyscape,

On long days, she still drifted a mist to green,

When vesper shadows lengthened slowly to purple;

And life was otherwise just a day of too many details.


            Inside, she climbed a mountain to touch clouds,

            Her frame rock-strong: within, her soul an ocean,

            Crashing soft against cliffs, her heart

            Drumming again to the aged memory of songs.


A soul that sparked flame in ideas, passions,

Books, songs, dreams, and fires, new and old,

All that caught the day’s edge—spider-webbing them green, days of grass—

And blurred to night, spirit worlds unknown and known to mortal.


And she never missed the blurring moment, only sometimes

She forgot to capture it, bubble-fresh spinning,

            To linger there, and let it go.


For in blurring, a book opens, a song hums itself to sleep,

A watercolor world washes in new colors.

Blurring life, a changing scene that is far and maybe gone

       But always fingertip-close,

            A breath of words on her lips—

And forever hers.