Crosses on the Road to Sligo


At first we greet them with nervous laughter,
with the attitude of the day-tripper –
hard and sleek as the car we steer
through these treacherous bends.

There is a hypnotism to these crosses –
an urging to recognise fatal trajectories,
the tiny slips that bring spinning wheels
to a stop. And they multiply –

proliferating now at every bend,
blind reminders of mortality,
each one its own cross-roads,
marker of a choice unmade.

On our return we are silent,
carrying with us your brother –
the surprising weight
of human frailty –

and as the lowering cloud lifts
a pale eyelid above Maeve’s grave,
as roadside bouquets wither
in their plastic sheaths,

we make our own crosses,
though invisible –
to carry with us in the mind’s eye
or on the shoulder.

Jessica Traynor was the 2013 Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year and won the 2011 Listowel Poetry Prize.