Poetry: Tinteán/Hearth by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer, recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary 2015, and winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize

 

Tinteán

Ag scuabadh luaithe as an ngráta atáim,
mo ghlúine ar an ruga tinteáin,

- sean-chraiceann caorach le loirg lasracha
na blianta dóite ann- nuair a iompaíonn an ruga fúm

ina léarscáil. Feicim oileán ann, áit lom le cósta garbh.
Clochach, an talamh a ghlac lenár bpobal lag, ocrach,

aimsir an Drochshaoil. Thiar ar Grosse Île tá an t-aer trom,
fós, le ceobhrán-chuimhne an fiabhras tíofóideach. Tá an chré ann

tiubh, freisin, le cuimhne na ndaoine a cailleadh thall,
a d’fhág banda bán a gcnámh tríd na gciseal talún ann.

Tá a gcuid ainmneacha greanta, ní hamháin ar leacht
cuimhneacháin; tá siad scríofa, chomh maith, i leacht

na dtonnta - na tonnta céanna a d’iompair i bhfad ó bhaile iad,
na tonnta a luíonn síos, ceann ar cheann ar cheann ar an gcladach

úd i bhfad uainn, ar imeall an oileáin a fheicim anois sa ruga
fúm, sa sean-chraiceann leagtha faoi chnámh mo ghlúin.

Hearth

I’m scooping soft ash from the grate,
kneeling on the hearth-rug

- a scorch-scarred old sheepskin -
when the rug begins to become something different,

map of a bare place far away, the jagged-edged
island that held our people during the Famine.

On Grosse Île, the mist is opaque still, thick with drizzle
-memories of typhoid fever. The ground there is dense

with all who were lost, who left
a pale layer of bone through strata of earth.

Their names are etched, not only in marble,
but in the froth of the waves, the same waves

that carried them so far from home, the waves that even now,
lie down one by one by one on that rough shore, so far from us,

on the distant island that I seem to see in the rug by our hearth-
stone, in this scorched old sheepskin pinned under my knee bones.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer, recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary 2015. Her third book ‘Clasp’ was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Award and was awarded the Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize.