Two Poems

Bernard O’Donoghue

Lady’s Smock

Past the odour-of-sanctity primroses
in their tight nests of wrinkle-green
by the well, and the violets,
hardly daring to breathe, on the ditch
above them. On to the wet fields
and the wiry filigree below
the girl’s-dress mauve elegance
of this flower, rooted amid rush-spires,
just come out at the start of a new season.

Farmers Cross

My mother took to farming like a native,
as if she’d not grown up by city light;
she always said the front row in heaven
would be filled exclusively by farmers.

She’d married into it. Then, as if things
were not bad enough, three days after he died
that cold March Sunday, a cheque he’d dated
on the day came back to us, explaining

‘Not honoured: signatory deceased.’
His subscription to the Irish Farmers’ Journal.
But he hated farming: every uphill step
on the black hill where he’d been born and bred.

So she flew out for good and back to England,
from newly opened Cork airport, where the lights
fought a losing battle with the fog
at Farmers Cross. ‘Why on earth’, everyone

was asking, ‘build it on a hill? Why not keep
to lower ground by the city? Wasn’t it plain
to God it couldn’t prosper there? That they’d
always said it was a hard farm to work.’