Moya Cannon

At Three Castles Head We Catch our Breath

We come from a hidden ocean and go to an unknown ocean
Antonio Machado

A flat, faulted slab of cliff soars
and shimmers far above us
then slants far below,
into a young ocean
we call the Atlantic.

Bedded sandstones
have been tilted on edge here –
dust of disappeared mountains,
compressed beneath the weight
of disappeared oceans.

What cosmic accident engendered
this relentless complexity of being –
the hot metal core, the mantle heavily swirling
under new hills, thin-floored oceans, fragile cities,

and under the flowering bank of earth behind us,
which responds again to the nearing of a star,
each unfolding primrose an inch of yellow velvet,
each heavy violet teetering on its slim stem,

and us, latecomers,
balanced between cliff and flowers,
trying to comprehend both,
trying to catch our breath.

From Donegal Tarantella, Carcanet Press, 2019