Moya Cannon


The unexpected tide,
the great wave,
uncontained, breasts the rock,
overwhelms the heart, in spring or winter.
Surfacing from a fading language,
the word comes when needed.
A dark sound surges and ebbs,
its accuracy steadying the heart.
Certain kernels of sound
reverberate like seasoned timber,
unmuted truths of a people’s winters,
stirrings of a thousand different springs.
There are small unassailable words
that diminish Caesars;
territories of the voice
that intimate across death and generation
how a secret was imparted –
that first articulation,
when a vowel was caught
between a strong and a tender consonant,
when someone, in anguish
made a new and mortal sound
that lived until now,
a testimony
to waves succumbed to
and survived.

Taom: Gaelic: an overflowing, usually in the context of a great wave of emotion.

From Carrying the Songs, Carcanet Press, 2007