Fugitive Fragments

by Mike McGuire

Thoughts from a Bog

a day in a bog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the County Clare
there’s a spot I know
where a curlew calls
from a berried rowan
as a hurried stream
joins the salmon-slewed
broad Shannon’s course.

That stream has length
six billion years long
draining the graveyards
of great fallen forests
long rotted by aeons
to brown carbon peat
this malleable mud
then reaped sod by sod
by bent brawny men
who toiled summers long
and dried it to turf
to warm winter homes;
‘tis still done today
and always has been.

Bogs also bore fuel
that lit a man’s mind
from Heaney’s squat pen
to my own father’s song.

But is heat poor receipt
or a song best foregone
for the once mighty forests
of the now barren Clare?

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23 thoughts on “Thoughts from a Bog

  1. Tayyeba on said:

    Lovely poem! It’s beautiful.

    Your poetry is amazing. Truly.

  2. I enjoyed this poem. I have been entertained, educated and enlightened by it. Thanks, Mike.

  3. Lovely poem, Mike. The bogs are such a familiar element of folk history we tend to forget what they are. The ancient forests disappeared long ago, but we used to say Elizabeth I was responsible for destroying the more recent forests to build the English fleet. Either way, you have written a beautiful homage to a changing landscape, picking out the beauty in what might be a second best, but it’s all we have.

    • You know your anthropology and history Jane and how geological ironies can impact on sociology. I appreciate your welcome interpretation and your kind compliment.

  4. I can smell that turf . What a wonderful smell, but it was meant to stay in the wetlands. I remember staying in the Cairngorms in Scotland in the early 2000s and people were still burning peat there. Superb poem, but then I was sure to be hooked by the mention of bird life and the rowan tree (though it would still have been superb without those references).

    • I know what you recall – some people say it about bakery smells but to me the scent of home is burning turf. I’m glad you could relate to this and freely share that my choice of tree was wholly decided by a kindred poet who shall remain nameless. I thank you for your appreciation of what I think is my first ‘home-grown’ poem.

  5. This as if from days of old. Lyrical and with such gorgeous flow and nostalgic essence. I can hear it strummed around in front of a great flame drawn from the forests that were. Epic write.

  6. I love this lines Mike:
    “draining the graveyards
    of great fallen forests”
    … they bring such a feeling of motion to the poem. Great poem!

  7. Excellent poem, Mike. :)

    It brings back a lot of memories.

    I remember passing through County Clare on a bus tour I took with my dad through Ireland many years ago.

    • Small world DVH though I had no idea they were still allowing Transylvanians into Ireland. No doubt you journeyed through The Burren were you could see the lunar landscape that my barrenness refers to above. Thanks heaps for the fine grading you’ve given this one.

  8. Beautiful words strung together into a beautiful sentiment. I used to be dragged along to help gather the turf when I was wee. Hated the work but loved being in the bog on a summer day. There’s still no meal as delicious as a flask of tea and a homemade sandwich eaten up a mountain. Thanks for bringing all that to mind on this snowy NYC day.

    • I have an image of you now Jackie beshawled on the corner of Times Sq. and W43rd singing ‘The Old Bog Road’ (“My feet are here on Broadway/This pleasant harvest morn…”) with the tears freezing on your icy cheeks as you clutch the flask of Power’s Gold Label warming your tiny mittened hands. And before you hang up, I am very glad that you read this work of commonality between you and I and that it resonated so well with you. Much thanks.

  9. pi314chron on said:

    The intonation and lilt of the Gaelic somehow comes across in English and is nothing short of elegant! Such beautiful words…some of which have never been in my ear or tongue…but they still sing to me and work their magic on this rainy day in Texas. Just lovely, Mike. And the message of the last stanza wasn’t lost on me — may the day soon come when we no longer destroy our forests and other non-renewable resources for energy or corporate gain.

    Ron

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