Poem of the Week: The Heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole

A new poem by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

The heart was the only target, the bishop said
when news of my theft spread
in the streets until even
the smooth, wet cobblestones

Three times taken:
first, as hostage at the age of ten for my father;
next, carved out of the human chest like a curse;
finally, stolen from the cathedral,
only a candle left burning in my wake.

I would know by now the scent of a raid in the dark.
Yet who can claim I have not tried to defend myself?

Reborn according to the holy book, I lay for peace
between borders. I healed with water.
I refused red-berry wine, tender cuts of meat,
all the time shielding my body in hair.


And for what reward?
In this afterlife,
I remain
by desire.

Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet from Donegal. Her debut collection, Bloodroot (Doire Press), was shortlisted for the Shine Strong Award in Ireland and for the Julie Suk Award in the US. She is the 2018 Kerry writer-in-residence. Her poem here is taken from Town (Salvage Press), which features poetry by Annemarie Ní Churreáin, hand-printed photography by Rich Gilligan, and design and production by Jamie Murphy