That was that Sunday afternoon in May
When a hot sun pushed through the clouds
And you were born!
I was driving the two hundred miles from west to east,
The sky blue-and-white china in the fields
In impromptu picnics of tartan rugs;
When neither words nor I
Could have known that you had been named already
And that your name was Rosie –
Rosie Joyce! May you some day in May
Fifty-six years from today be as lucky
As I was when you were born that Sunday:
To drive such side-roads, such main roads, such ramps, such
To cross such bridges, to by-pass such villages, such towns
As I did on your Incarnation Day.
By-passing Swinford – Croagh Patrick in my rear-view mirror –
My cell phone rang and, stopping on the hard edge of P. Flynn’s highway,
I heard Mark your father say:
“A baby girl was born at 3.33 p.m.
Weighing 7 and a I/2 Ibs in Holles Street.
Tough work, all well.”
That Sunday in May before daybreak
Night had pushed up through the slopes of Achill
Yellow forefingers of Arum Lily – the first of the year;
Down at the Sound the first rhododendrons
Purpling the golden camps of whins;
The first hawthorns powdering white the mainland;
The first yellow irises flagging roadside streams;
Quills of bog-cotton skimming the bogs;
Burrishoole cemetery shin-deep in forget-me-nots;
The first sea pinks speckling the seashore;
Cliffs of London Pride, groves of bluebell,
First fuchsia, Queen Anne’s Lace, primrose.
I drove the Old Turlough Road, past Walter Durcan’s Farm,
Umbrella’d in the joined handwriting of its ash trees;
I drove Tulsk, Kilmainham, the Grand Canal.
Never before had I felt so fortunate.
To be driving back into Dublin city;
Each canal bridge an old pewter brooch.
I rode the waters and the roads of Ireland,
Rosie, to be with you, seashell at my ear!
How I laughed when I cradled you in my hand.
Only at Tarmonbarry did I slow down,
As in my father’s Ford Anglia half a century ago
He slowed down also, as across the River Shannon
We crashed, rattled and bounced on a Bailey bridge;
Daddy relishing his role as Moses,
Enunciating the name of the Great Divide
Between the East and the West!
We are the people of the West,
Our fate to go East.
No such thing, Rosie, as a Uniform Ireland
And please God there never will be;
There is only the River Shannon and all her sister rivers
And all her brother mountains and their family prospects.
There are higher powers than politics
And these we call wildflowers or, geologically, people.
Rossie Joyce – that Sunday in May
Not alone did you make my day, my week, my year
To the prescription of Jonathan Philbin Bowman –
Popping out of my daughter, your mother –
Changing the expressions on the faces all around you –
All of them looking like blue hills in a heat haze –
But you saved my life. For three years
I had been subsisting in the slums of despair,
Unable to distinguish one day from the next.
On the return journey from Dublin to Mayo
In Charlestown on Main Street
I meet John Normanly, organic farmer from Curry.
He is driving home to his wife Caroline
From a Mountbellew meeting of the Western Development
Of Dillon House in Ballaghadereen.
He crouches in his car, I waver in the street,
As we exchange lullabies of expectancy;
We wet our foreheads in John Moriarty’s autobiography.
The following Sunday is the Feast of the Ascension
Of Our Lord into Heaven:
Thank You, O Lord, for the Descent of Rosie onto Earth.