From my Spring book.

Wandering the Gaeltacht
in a beat-up Morris Minor
I was pretty much lost
but fine with that.
With evening settling, 
I rested the van at the crest of a hill
and stretching in every direction
a flat plain of black-brown earth.
A tabletop tablecloth landscape
scarred by peat stacks,
trenched by whom and when?
Away down to my right,
the distance a leprous crow might fly,
the glow of a man smoking – or a house –
it was hard to tell in the sinking light.
A cottage sagged with buckling walls,
its roof bowed beneath chimney stack,
turves and grazing sheep,
looking as it were birthed,
fully-formed, from Ireland’s womb.
A sign in the window – barely readable.
“Rooms Available – Seomraí ar fáil.”
The door opened.
A man, all of four feet and inches,
as wide as he was tall, beamed,
I stepped into the passage.
The walls were lined with shelving
crammed with boxes stretching, 
to the very bowels of the Earth.
The room was warmed by an open fire
that yer man sat beside – in a worn leather
antique buttoned red armchair
that swaddled him in its cradling arms.
His feet almost reached the floor.
He re-lit a pipe and offered tobacco,
“Try Foggy Fox, a silk smooth smoke.”
On his sideboard, a bottle of Tullamore Dew,
“It’s heavenly nectar… slàinte mhath.”
The chimney stack was decked in gold and black,
rosettes, and shirts, sepia photographs
and an autographed camán.
 ‘Ádh Mór Ort, Paddy Phelan.’
“I’m a lifelong fan of Kilkenny Cats,
the finest team in all Éireann,
All-Ireland champs more times than I recall.
Did you never see Ollie Walsh keeping goal?
Now he was a spectacle – un feckin’ beatable.”
He raked the fire and poured a glass.
“I’m Leinster born, moved up to Galway,
for work in the hotel trade in Clifden
and would you look at me now – a place of me own.”
His eyes followed my eyes to more shelves
engraved boxes, dated and labelled, 
with names and addresses.
“Take a look – what do you see?”
I read, ‘Potter, J. July 1963.’
“Broken crockery. A jug maybe?”
“That ‘broken crockery’ holds a story:
Potter was grunting ‘mid quickie’
with some floozy.
His wife walked in unexpectedly
catching your man and the ‘squeeze’ in flagrante. 
The bridal suite was awash with a flood –
broken china and Potter’s blood.
We gathered the shards the best we could.
Each casket tells of broken hearts
broken promises, broken marriages. 
When I hear of a couple reconciling
I search out their casket of wreckage
and restore the busted cup or bowl,
with old gold coins I smelt for mortar
and tears I shed while I weld..
The pottery is delivered as a token
that broken lives can be mended
a hint to be a little kinder in future.”
“How do you find out about couples patching up?”  
“There are ways.” 
“You’ve hundreds to do.”
“I have all the time in the world.”
An exquisite glowing porcelain  
held in an embrace of golden veins
snatched my breath away.
“That is wonderful.
What do you want for it?
Name your price.
American Express?”
“Nothing’s for sale. My works are priceless.”
I looked at the Potters’ broken pieces,
“So, you get to fix a lot?” 
“Not so many.”


© coolhermit 2023
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Enjoyed the imagery in this poem. It is easy to break crockery and relationships.

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