I lived in a tumble down Famine-era cottage, just outside Mountmellick, Co. Laois in Ireland. A scared dog was found shivering in a shed after I moved in. Mice populated the false ceiling. The lights came on automatically, when it rained. There was no sink, just a tap on the toilet wall. The thatch had more weed than reed! Some of my happiest days were spent there over a year. When the ceiling collapsed, I moved out.
Down boreen a tired cottage waited,
thatch tinted grey, braided with weeds;
quaint, half-collapsed, famine-era dated,
above ceiling, mice multiplied full-speed;
vermin gristle kittens quickly crunched
under kitchen table, I gagged as I lunched.
Frequently tapping, black Remington clattered,
long letters, uneven poems, sceptical screeds
to unsuspecting editors: scripture mattered;
to pertinent peer-critics, I now concede –
“Hemmings, like hammer flying through
plate glass window” – zeal of convert new.
No female muse but Daisy, crazy dog
and kind companion, often led the way,
up overgrown lanes, through old bog;
faithful, she would willingly obey
instructions, unlike her muddled master:
angels frequently rescued him from disaster.
Hapless, with blunt saw, I vainly pruned
litchen mottled, ancient apple trees;
wind rocked ladder, transistor tuned
to World Service, ever-increasing breeze,
rain spattered spectacles almost obscuring
my amateur effort, end result not assuring….
Before departing that memorable dwelling
miracles manifested: hidden hundredfold
buried bulbs started secretly swelling,
daffodils shot bullet buds, yellow-gold:
troops of flower flags breezily unfurled
– dumb-struck by God’s colourful world…
‘boreen’ – a small country road