Great hosts of basking sharks and shoals of mackerel,

like breathren in the one Creation, swam

together in the seas around Loop Head Point,

free of those long-standing habits of predation

whereby the larger fellow eats the small.

In Kilkee church, two girls saw statues move.

Lights appeared and disappeared and reappeared

from Doonaghboy to Newtown and the dead were seen

perched upon ditchbanks with their turnip lamps by night.

In Moveen, cattle sang, crows barked, and kittens flew.

The tidal pools at Goleen filled with blood

and all the common wisdoms were undone

by signs and wonders everywhere. Argyle

wondered were they miracles or omens?

God’s handiwork or some bedevilment

called up or down on him by that avenging priest

he’d lately tangled with?  Either way, retreat

was the word that formed in him. A fortnight’s rest

at Dingle, fast and prayer to purge and cleanse himself

among those holy hermits there who never

once, for all their vast privations, ever

saw or heard a thing or apprehended God

abounding in their stars or stones or seas.

And for all they hadn’t witnessed, yet believed.

Thomas Lynch’s most recent books are The Sin-Eater—A Breviary and The Good Funeral, co-authored with Thomas G. Long. He has taught in the Department of Mortuary Science at Wayne State University, the Graduate Writing Program at the University of Michigan, and at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

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Published in the 2011-08-12 issue: View Contents
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