Something in the atmosphere suggests
that the name is not merely a matter of mistaken linguistics.
Words, a pale skin,
a lifeless layering of dust
over everything that has happened here.
Victims to the passing of time,
they are barely a memory,
a backdrop to the savage beauty,
a ruined church at Dunlewey,
a windowless shell of what was,
a vessel to look through the form
and see those who wander forlorn
on the other side.
In skeletal hills
the land is scarred like a dead meadow.
With shadows black
as the underside of a burnt kettle.
The scent of smoke from a distant peat fire
permeates the air,
giving rise to a pall
that punctuates the despair.
It seems the specter of the famine is ever near.
Imprinted on the wind,
a passing whimper of history,
sinister harvester of the impoverished.
The graves of someone’s children
are tiny markings under tall grass,
swallowed in the magnitude of the glen.
You sense in the stillness,
souls are never at rest.
Beneath the oratory,
a towering dome
on which the transformation was known
as Errigal, the capturer of light,
of sorrow, of flight,
of the exile pursued by sea
to his death by crushing blow
that would empty poison into this hollow,
to forever spew forth
for all that follow their envy.
You see, beauty is innocent
and beyond control.
Beauty that flourishes when left alone,
becomes poison with the alchemy
of a possessed man’s soul.
The legend of Balor is written here,
as is the ghost of the green lady.
I’m told in passing of a greedy host,
a serial murderer,
who would lure in the weary
with the promise of shelter and tea
on their way home from overseas.
A bed for the night
would rob them of life,
bodies lightened of coins,
glittering in darkened wells,
weighted, waiting to be recognized,
the ivy and this opening disguised
as it drapes a tendriled arm
over stories that were worth listening,
disturbing what was resting,
your presence, a sudden wind
slipping in between
the collar and the nape of the neck,
raising the skin
over all you were considering
in relation to this beautiful
but poisoned glen.