Poem of the week: The Natural Order

A new poem by Orla Fay

‘I start the year with care for what is small’

‘I start the year with care for what is small’


I start the year with care for what is small,
the black beetle caught in the threads of my glove,
a fighter having survived the night,

experience the trauma in freeing him, or her, or it!
Ten minutes or more spent in surgery
and I never want to be a spider.

I suppose that yes there must be death,
that this is the universal law,
best make my peace with it now.

Yet I balked in finding fledglings on the roadside,
their tiny, almost weightless bodies
just not managing to fly,

how I lament
those who are this sacrifice,
the could-have-beens.

I ushered two to a leafy, grass and hedgerow
pyre, imagining that when the sun sets, or rises
the next day the cleansing by fire,

the ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
the earth giveth and taketh away, realise
that the great bounty of spring must have its casualties.

The murder of crows know this,
feeding on the freshly ploughed fields,
see that the land is life to their skies,

as do the worms, soil eaters and keepers know,
that the mother provides mealy moments
of subterranean artistry before the farmer’s hand.

Orla Fay is editor of Boyne Berries poetry magazine and was shortlisted for the Cuirt New Writing Prize this year.