The Knot

When the house is dark and the air

quiet for a minute,

then past the window flits

that winging shape like a burning bird


that shoots back on its track and away

again, springing.

The evening fire

crackles now, the flame slips along the kindling,

the baby flames begin to grasp, they bravely reach,

while the air outside is as clear as water,

and the flying thing is here again, it comes back as if

to a knot that will not loosen, or the small

disturbance in the stream that reveals the snag,

back to that knot whispering in water that shuddered

past my knee, a clutching -

little waves like double quotes -

when the surface of the water glittered like a Christmas tree

and after twenty-one years the hanging glass butterfly

that I bought in the December market slithered away,

lost itself, loosed the knot and fell into its freedom.

(from The Boys of Bluehill by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Gallery Press, 2015)