SNEEM TAVERN in black letters on drab walls,
A stark exterior on an empty street.
Inside, walls are warm and bright
Wrapped in yellow, and pictures, and relics,
Scraps of days gone by,
A collage that marks this place
The slap and clap of hands on hands,
The rhythmic stomp of feet on the floor,
Singing – a song for Ireland,
And a Guinness-filled choir,
Cheering for poets and bards
Are the heartbeat and joyful breath of the place
Faces – young, old
Each reflecting in the other,
In the fabric of this moment in time
And spin in a perfect chaos.
Trooping uphill in the dark,
One look back over my shoulder
At the tavern radiating life
From the center of the village.
In my memory, the song plays on.
For mountains rising up on all sides,
And black rocks scattered by the shore,
For flowers underfoot, yellow and white all over.
For moments of incredible joy
For brief, shared moments,
For moments when I stepped out of the scene to say
“Thank you for all of this, here.”
For the universe’s web, stitching all of these together,
Every piece – every person, every place,
Paths that cross by surprise,
Each colorful thread
Or chunk of stained glass
Joined to make a whole.
For the greatest story ever told
For the story that is now mine
For being carried safely through vast unknowns –
Till now, I have never been so far from home
Till now, I have never been so close to my ancient past
Till now, I have never seen so much life
Burst from a single seed
Till now, I have never felt so aware of the prize
That is the life
That is mine.
I will dig deeply
I will go
I will fall backwards to kiss stones
I will cultivate my piece of earth and give thanks for
Surprises, moments, past and present,
I will be the sower and sheaf
I will till
Something I expected to leave in Ireland,
It would not fit in my suitcase or in my bags,
I did not intend to bring it back with me,
I thought that I had left it behind.
Until, beginning to unpack,
I found it had followed me home.
It came tucked between the images that fill my mind
Of land I fell in love with,
Songs and stories I collected,
And small moments of consciousness
Of being blessed.
I sit on a table
Gently covered in the smell of
Paint and clay and colors
Surrounded by two dozen others
Each a little different.
The door swings open again
And the room is doused with light
That wakes up the canvas sea of painted faces,
The tiles and pottery,
Crimson and cobalt,
Flowers and fish.
Curious fingers and wondering eyes
Pass over us slowly
And then leave.