by Maureen Grady
I must now leave this land
that I love with a physical longing.
There’s a Covid! a tiny local woman calls out,
breathless and afraid,
as she waves to me from the crossroad.
She runs round to my window
to see who I might be,
and what in the world I am doing
there in the far, far west
on national quarantine lockdown day.
No villagers are visible;
all are sheltering.
I explain I’m leaving for America tomorrow,
just had to see this all again.
A fierce March rain pelts my rental car.
Just a minute she calls out,
then disappears behind a food shop.
Mountains of legend tower above me,
the holy wells are full.
The valley streams with waterfalls
and infinite green soothes my soul.
I tell myself I must remember everything,
and sear this beauty into mind,
imprint it all forever.
The locked pub door
opens a crack, she peeks out,
and motions me, secretly, in.
She has lit a turf fire,
Now warm yourself.
She lays down a tray before me:
a pot of Barry’s tea,
brown bread and butter,
a bit of chocolate.
Strength for the journey, she says.
PHOTO: Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Photo by Jonas Fehre, used by permission.
NOTE: Connemara is a cultural region in County Galway, Ireland. The area has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains a major part of the Connacht Irish–speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region and is the largest Gaeltacht in the country.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maureen Grady is author of two books of poetry: Unpack My Heart With Words (2015), and Land of Dream and Dreamer, Poems of Ireland (2019). Maureen is a writer, teacher, actor, producer, and private writing coach. She has taught British and Irish Literature, Shakespeare, and Creative Writing for many years. Her private creative writing conservatory has nurtured many young women writers. Maureen was fortunate to have John L’Heureux as a mentor at Stanford, and studied with Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland. She has won two teaching prizes: the student-nominated “One of LA’s Most Inspiring Teachers,” and a national recognition for teaching Creative Writing from Scholastic Books given at Carnegie Hall by Tony Kushner. Maureen is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in Literature, minor in History/Art History. She also has a Masters in Theatre. Maureen is an Irish citizen and divides her time between Ireland and America.