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Poem of the Week: By Paula Meehan

By Paula Meehan

The field itself is lost the morning it becomes a site

When the Notice goes up: Fingal County Council – 44 houses

The memory of the field is lost with the loss of its herbs

Though the woodpigeons in the willow

And the finches in what’s left of the hawthorn hedge

And the wagtail in the elder

Sing on their hungry summer song

The magpies sound like flying castanets

And the memory of the field disappears with its flora:

Who can know the yearning of yarrow

Or the plight of the scarlet pimpernel

Whose true colour is orange?

And the end of the field is the end of the hidey holes

Where first smokes, first tokes, first gropes

Were had to the scentless mayweed

The end of the field as we know it is the start of the estate

The site to be planted with houses each two or three bedroom

Nest of sorrow and chemical, cargo of joy

The end of dandelion is the start of Flash

The end of dock is the start of Pledge

The end of teazel is the start of Ariel

The end of primrose is the start of Brillo

The end of thistle is the start of Bounce

The end of sloe is the start of Oxyaction

The end of herb robert is the start of Brasso

The end of eyebright is the start of Fairy

Who amongst us is able to number the end of grasses

To number the losses of each seeding head?

I’ll walk out once

Barefoot under the moon to know the field

Through the soles of my feet to hear

The myriad leaf lives green and singing

The million million cycles of being in wing

That – before the field become solely map memory

In some archive of some architect’s screen

I might possess it or it possess me

Through its night dew, its moon white caul

Its slick and shine and its profligacy

In every wingbeat in every beat of time

Award-winning Irish poet and playwright PAULA MEEHAN will deliver Canisius College’s 11th annual Hassett Reading at 7 p.m. Thursday in the college’s Montante Cultural Center, Main Street at Eastwood Place. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Eastern Washington University, she is the author of six collections of poetry, the most recent of which is “Painting Rain” (Carcanet, U.K.; Wake Forest University Press, U.S.; 2009). In September she was appointed to a three-year term as chairwoman of Irish Poetry, Professor of Poetry – the equivalent of poet laureate – by Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins.