Poem of the week: Sowthistle by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Annemarie Ní Churreáin


at St Joseph’s Industrial School, Dundalk, Co Louth (1881-1983)

Here, in the aftermath of the orphanage,
I watch the local schoolgirls gathering
along the street’s chipped, black railings
and, two by two, link slender arms to troop
uptown against the sun, all high heads
and clear temples, all grit and burning,
all clean hair flashing ponies.
Who knows the earth more than a girl?
Who knows the auguries of stone?
We were often told, you are the lowest of the low,
we cupped our hands to the grass to see how low.

What cannot be written is rising up
through the cracks. I kneel to a sowthistle,
leaf-starred and gold between my fingers,
the stalk throbbing light. I encounter
its living testimony, as closely as I
would encounter the expert findings
of any state report.

Today’s poem is from Annemarie Ní Churreáin’s new collection, The Poison Glen (The Gallery Press)