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Poetry / Lucy Holme​

'The Marriage Deal

Issue 2. June 21, 2021


Kate Lynch comes on after
Decked out in black silk
On the bleak rocks of skellig to
Skim her sour milk
—A ‘snippet’ from the Skellig List ‘The Satirist’ found by Shane Lehane in the private papers of Tadg Ó Donnachadha (Torna) Professor of Irish (1916-1944) in UCC.

This Shrovetide eve, it comes to pass
barefoot and resolute, I stand. 
Wind whipped sky above my head
white chalk sticks crumbled
between my steady hands.
In Valentia harbour the carnival rages,
a cacophony of catcalls and cheers.
Fires stoked, light a path to the unwed
as fervently as monks in coarse undyed wool
searched for ways to best reach God
but unlike St. Fionán’s devout and holy
there’s no such ascension for women like me.
They do not peg my black silk clothes 
for widow’s weeds and yet
consider me aloof, displeased.  
I will not stay to argue or accept
an alias unknown, for you.
I once wore white under this new moon, a lone fawn
born with eyes wide open and scent-free.
No. You cannot touch me. 
I hear them call out, Kate! We have your match, 
and I flinch as though a ghost is near.
But I belong to the spines, the caverns, 
the corbelled vaults and misted moss
beneath the puffins’ lair.  
I reach out my hand to Michael through the fog,
incredible, impossible mad place
ancient hermitage across the waves.
I might row my tiny boat across tonight 
climb its heights and forever disappear.

Notes: The "incredible, impossible, mad place" is Skellig Michael as described by George Bernard Shaw. The Skellig (or ‘Sceilig’) Lists were hand-exchanged verses as part of a tradition in parts of Kerry and Cork drawing on the folk memory that couples had once sailed away to be married in the island monastery where an anomaly in the calendar meant that Lent came late.

Born in Kent in the UK, Lucy has a BA (hons) in English Literature and Language from Manchester University and has lived in Cork, Ireland since 2013. Most recently her work has appeared in Opia Lit, Ó Bhéal XIV, Porridge, Dreich, One Hand Clapping, and The Honest Ulsterman and is forthcoming in The Liminal Review, Wrongdoing, Crossways, and Tír na Nóg. She will begin her MA in Creative Writing at UCC later this year.

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