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By Clare Mulvany
The waves of West Cork are dancing with light.
They hide under the canopy of darkness,
growing in their secret.
In this lake: liquid lore.
In these waters: tincture of stars.
We wait until near midnight,
then drive the narrow back roads,
The moon has been waning, and now is gone.
‘Dark skies are best’, say the locals,
‘And hold out for cloud-cover too.’
Tonight’s forecast: the possibility of the stars aligning.
So we talk about religion and the rituals of prayer.
In a world long ago, I was bound by obligation
and my body grew to the dictates of men.
But now, as we park the car, as I distill
my clothes to nakedness, as I inch my toes towards
that first cold shimmering,
a ritualistic roar comes out of my wonder,
and my lungs shudder at the sight.
The night has turned to wave-worship.
We are limbs, bathing in a lightening bolt.
We are bodies blasted open
by single-cell organisms
raising havoc with delight.
My breasts are dipped in inkwells of the luminous
And I think I could drown myself in this prayer.
Here is a God I can kneel at.
Yes, the night has turned to sacrament.
We are water-dwelling tabernacles;
We are sanctuary.
There is magic on our skin, and we are glowing.
A rosary of raindrops falls.
Silver and gold, and gems and flecks of science.
I can’t quite bring myself to cry, so I dive.
Under the glowing, between the seaweed and this seismic shift,
my breath comes back to me, filling my dark interior with
something close to everlasting.
Later, as we drive back across the mountain,
I glimpse down towards Lough Hyne,
looking like everything is normal.
Meanwhile, I may have swallowed a mouthful of holy
and inside I can feel it churning.
Tonight, for once, the forecast was right:
Sometimes we need to go under to find our way back to the light.
By Clare Mulvany
Sit low. Linger with undergrowth. Find the
inklings of moss and still dwellings of ground mist.
Piece together your fingers with mud. Prize apart
your wrists with etchings of rock.
Can you feel the coldness there? Can you feel
the curvature of the earth’s rim in each pebble?
Sit with the damp layer.
Get uncomfortable with grit.
Here on the glossy skin of the earth sits the
hubris of beginnings, looking dank and filled with
the dead of last year’s growth.
Whoever thought life would spring from here,
in this messy fold of clay and coverage.
Listen? Can you hear the saplings
trying to push up from the floor? Can you hear the effort they make
to bring stem to form, to root down deeper into the belly of
This spouting has lessons. So sit low.
Let your fingernails be earthed. Let the seeds
in your skin push up to germinate your dreams;
this mossy and thick life-force. You are magnitude.
This is just beginning.
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