When did courage die Maura Daly? When did the crazy heart of brave
convulse and arrest in the face of fear? When did sunken black eyes
overtake the screaming voice of a tomboy?
Not when your Da died, drowned deep in the life and trade
that sustained him. Rowing home heavy and wet, for once clean.
dead under orange tarpaulin,
His green eyes just like yours, staring blind
at a rocky cove he would comb no more. No not then. I saw you smile.
Laughing a while after that. No regret, I didn’t understand that.
I’m sorry Maura Daly.
Your poor Ma bawling but mad brave, on the beach at Barnageeragh.
rocks slicing bare feet, blood bloomed unnoticed in rock pools,
salt and iodine washing scars seen but doing nothing for those you wore hidden.
She reached for you then with desperate claws. To cling on close.
Pull courage from you as if it was a shawl of warm wool in which to wrap a cold soul. Life running wild from black eyes. Rain beating hard from bitter salty skies,
Was it when Billy Dunne lost his arm?
Torn in blood and pain from flesh and joint, in the old mill.
Mangled under the moving wheel, crushed to cow meal among the life stained grain.
He loved you Maura Daly. He would have cherished you.
Rocked your dreams awake, wiped your tears back to clear skies.
But half a man can’t fly. Billy choose his own windmills and his own plunging skies.
I remember you, a crazy child, running wild on the high walls, tall.
And so brave. A heart craving proof of endings. Unafraid in the face of crashing waves. Wild winds pulling hair and laughter astray. I’m sorry Maura Daly, I couldn’t stay.
Always on the cusp of that place, laughing in the face of life’s ending and beginning. Laughing loudly as you ran. Green eyes shining in wild sun. Daring death to come, running ahead of pain, along the high ridges and the edges of crumbling cliffs.
To slip and not care but dare the edge even further. shouting impudence and defiance at the interruption of our first and only kiss before I left.
Mortality tripping you in yielding mud and on sharp stones.
Showing no fear of the yawing or the plung. To climb back up and run on
while others fell. I am sorry I fell too Maura Daly. Another gone, left you alone. I could not stay, I understood to much then.
Now you walk close to the walls and ditchess hugging the edges of the world, but not me. Afraid always of falling, afraid of calling death and pain. Fear shines clear in a pinched face. When did it happen Maura Daly.
When did living start to scare you to death.
When did you learn to fear a touch. When did you learn to die a little every day. Was it the first time the world blackened green eyes. another man to steal blue skies.
I’m sorry Maura Daly.
© Dave Kavanagh 2016.