Irish American Poetry

Lace Stone Walls

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mud and clay caked
in cold crevices of
their scraped hands—

two bending men placing
a stone in the hollow
of two stones, one rock

on two rocks the length
of the wall—there’s strength
in movement. Lace wall

or farmers’, they leveled
with the land, building wide
as stone to stone allowed;

lace walls for hilltops,
leaving uneven spaces,
holes for the wind—

no art, just the ordinary
lifting up of what’s
deepest, stiles to climb—

chattered slate of sky
through a loose knit
of weathered stone.

Steady Dreamers

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Almost everywhere they are silent, even
their eyes do not tell. If you joke, they
laugh; turn, they wait, for they have learned
not to compete with feeling. They choose

to love—they know you will not believe
them. This resistance calms them, they bring
what they can, remember everything
they once revered. They do not teach you.

They do not take you places. They do not want
your money or your good looks. They are not
afraid. Not afraid of being alone, they are
not afraid of being wrong, they are not afraid

that it’s not worth it. They just continue living
in your expanding universe. They listen,
they hear you object to ambiguities, discredit
the ridiculous. They watch your face fade

in the room like innocence. But they are not
fooled. They deny nothing, admit nothing,
they are walking the back streets, lifting
belief from ruined worlds, taking the odds.