Poem of the week: ‘In the Library’

A double sonnet on the opening of the University of Limerick’s new Glucksman Library Building

Glucksman Library extension, University of Limerick. Photograph: Sean Curtin/True Media

Glucksman Library extension, University of Limerick. Photograph: Sean Curtin/True Media

 

In Athena’s House

This house is domestic, safe for take-off.
Nooks, books, at the window the necessary wolf.


The mind opening meets his stare and worries
at its own thirst. A boy struts in, the man you’ll marry.
 

The hunt begins. There are diversions. Heroes
with studs and tattoos that play to the audience.

The rasp of teeth on the back of your neck
reminds you of your purpose. It pulls you back.

Walls dissolve in the mind-altering spaces
among the quarks, the quincunx and gobsmack,

new stars greet old angels between June pages,
and from the floor along the stacks

a low growl as you fall softly on a thought
briefly disturbs the silence, your first rebel act.
Mary O’Malley

Glucksman Library extension, University of Limerick. Photograph: Sean Curtin/True Media
Glucksman Library extension, University of Limerick. Photograph: Sean Curtin/True Media

The Shannon Reader

Here are her timetable vows: one hour
at the river, then two in the library,

and then back down to the river again.
This rhythm bore no automatic fruit.

But a day came when suddenly the whole
thing sweetened and deepened. She found herself

on first name terms with concentration’s ghost,
while currents kissed the root of every book.

She’s upstairs now, the Shannon’s own reader,
within whose work the otters see themselves,

the one whose silence manifests a line
heard on the bridge, a line the sun makes true

by changing these black words into a shoal:
I read, I write, therefore all life is near.
Martin Dyar

  • Mary O’Malley’s latest book of poetry, Playing the Octopus, is published by Carcanet. She is a member of Aosdána. Martin Dyar is the 2018 Arts Council writer in residence fellow at the University of Limerick; his Pigott Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Maiden Names is published by Arlen House
  • In the Library, a double sonnet by Mary O’Malley and Martin Dyar, both of whom have held the Arts Council writer in residence fellowship at the University of Limerick, was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the new Glucksman Library Building in June 2018. The poem was developed through a series of conversations on the history and importance of libraries