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Poetry / Annie Kissack

'The Keeper of the Folklife’

Issue 2. June 21, 2021


It’s blowy on the tops;
she’s in her toss-a-sheep-back-over-a-hedge-coat,
warm brown slacks,
and shoes that take you slippery places.
Opening the car door with care
she fights the grudging grip of the wind’s hand.
Slam- she’s in! Foot down- she’s off!
How she rips down that hill
sending the geese squawking
and the gorse left trailing its yellow scent.
They’re used to her down in the village.
It took years.
Even so, she has her ways, our folklorist,
and there are whispers.
She has lain naked in the heather,
and swum against the heavy tide.
She has been taken by Themselves
and away to emptiness for a night and a day
and she has talked to old men
who have seen death through the destruction
of the trammon tree.
She has coaxed the shape of dances
from the grandfathers whose children never dance
and brought the birdsong down from the trees
in the old language.
There are notebooks in her deep pockets
full of scribbles.
It is to the steep cliffs of Ballaragh she belongs.
Down the thin track to that stern grey water
lie the great doors of her cathedral;
others may go there too
but take care, the tides are strong
and creatures lurk.

Annie Kissack is a poet and musician from the Isle of Man. A newly-retired teacher, she has been writing regulalry in both English and Manx Gaelic since winning the title of Manx Bard in 2018

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