Of Irish Peatlands


By Theresa Le Flem


Beloved strange land

speak to me in your mother tongue

of the bracken history crackle dry

where the faintest spark from steel-tipped boots

could set a flame to start


Where eyes shine in the ever-dark

tell me the stories that grow thick as trees

In this undercover your sisters and brothers,

bones bark and ashes compress black in ditches

and bog lands all wet sliced, like cheeses.


These sticky black molasses hills

Have hands that reach and catch

And trap up to the neck.


Forgive me

in your mother-tongue forgive me please

Your hunger’s ceased

and you, your wedges cut

Stacked-up for drying in the sun

So tell me

when will all this anger, slow to burn, be over

or will it ever end?

If stones are bread and soil is fuel,

if water is wine,

Then wine, my friend, is blood.