Despite the bay’s tranquility, boats
swayed in Portage, their fishermen
anchored in the pub. They eyed me entering.
Too cold to turn away, I sat to sip
seafood chowder with little seafood
but good brown bread and eavesdropped
on conversations too old to comprehend.
I later learned gentleness of nearer waters
masked madness beyond the Skellig Islands,
where the sea thrashed against itself. A window
in the pub framed a gray and swirling veil
hanging over Bray’s Head: a plateau that raised
its chin to gloom, tilted so far back
its meadow hair swept down to village edge.
In my car I crept away, reached
the nape, parked below a farmer’s fence,
climbed a stile into folds of sheep, began
my ascent. Houses lined the port,
pink and blue, white and red, soon far
below, ringed the neck. A narrow path
called me higher to where a tower hovered
and lambs no taller than my knee grazed
along a precipice. Fog brushed in.
Blind and lost, I settled on the grass.
Fishermen, you take the sea. Take its partner
sky. I’ll keep the stones, hooves, roots,
ground. The ground. I will not drown again.