Slieve League by Christine Gelineau


Slieve League
County Donegal, Ireland
by Christine Gelineau

Cliffs draw us, as margins must: that limitless curiosity limits excite.
It’s exactly the 600 meters of granite verticality that insinuates

closer, let me show you. Our thirst for clarity runs that deep.
The glittering little lake at Bunglass Point observes unblinking

as tourists and family groups head off along the ridge; there
at Amharc Mor, “the good view,” a sketchy fence suggests

but well beyond, the man and boy stroll, and a girl sits leaned
against a stone, turning the pages to her book, rehearsing nonchalance.

This high up, the breathing of the sea is barely audible.
Watchers cross and re-cross the glass distance to the waves,

imagining the release, almost welcome in the manageable
summer air. Daydreams. Less than vapor. Assume instead

the composure of the heather. After the cliff walkers
return to their domestic suppers; after the noisome

cars reload and wend back, sunset stains the stones
mortal red and shadowed ambergris. In the mobile dark

of borderland the sea repeats without complaint
the siren song of its remorseless loyalty.

© Christine Gelineau, 2006. From Remorseless Loyalty, Ashland Poetry Press.

PHOTO: The Slieve League cliffs, County Donegal, Ireland. Photo by Holzauge222.


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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Slieve League cliffs, located in County Donegal, Ireland, are nearly three times the height of the better-known Cliffs of Moher. On a trip to Ireland to see the birthplaces of my mother’s parents, we traveled up to Donegal to visit the poets Joan and Kate Newman, who live in sight of Slieve League and who took us to that unforgettable site. The poem is included in my collection Remorseless Loyalty, the book that won the Richard Snyder Publication Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and was published in 2006. 

PHOTO: Sunset, Slieve League cliffs, County Donegal, Ireland. Photo by Johny Goerend on Unsplash

MAP: County Donegal indicated in green on map of Ireland.  Map by Ireland101, All Rights Reserved. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Gelineau is the author of three full-length books of poetry: Crave (NYQ Books); Appetite for the Divine and Remorseless Loyalty (both from Ashland Poetry Press).  A recipient of the Pushcart Prize, Gelineau teaches in the low-residency MFA at Wilkes University; after 26 years, she has just retired from Binghamton University. Her poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared widely including in Prairie Schooner,  New Letters, The New York Times Opinionator, Green Mountains Review, and others. Gelineau lives with her husband on a Morgan horse farm in the Susquehanna River Valley of Upstate New York. Visit her at Read an interview with the author at readwritepoetry

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