Posts Tagged ‘Connemara’

On Tully Mountain

March 18th, 2012

Tully Mountain and Renvyle Lough

A few years ago, I vacationed for two weeks in Connemara.  I stayed at a resort on the coast called Renvyle House Hotel, a place with some literary associations, and one day I hiked up a nearby hill, which they call a mountain.  This poem is my tribute to that place.   You can’t give the flavor of Ireland, I think, without reciting place names – most of those in the poem are pretty self explanatory, and if you really want to you can google them.  “Rusheenduff Lake” is a little private trout pond reserved for guests at the resort.  “The Bens” are a nearby mountain range, and the aroma described at the end of the poem is the very scent of Connemara itself, given off by burning peat.  Peat, for those of you who don’t know, is the product of accumulation for millenia of vegetable matter, preserved in the anaerobic environment of a bog.

A   thousand feet above the bay
a wind that kept its hand in the pocket where the knife was
and this being Connemara those grey humpy beasts all over the sky
four sided concrete column about waist high with a surveyor’s brass plate on top
rising at the summit out of a mound of quartzite shards
to which I’d added my one
now I leaned against it facing the wind like a reader at a lectern
the bay opened out below me
Crump Island flashed from olive drab to emerald
I still couldn’t make out the abandoned church on it
but the sea around it came alive and soon the whole bay glittered bluely
soon also the oil-paint stolidity of Renvyle Point had exchanged for pastels
Rusheenduff Lake as vivid as a caste mark
and who remembered chiaroscuro when pointillism was all the rage
after a while the sun rested its foot on my back and massaged my shoulders with its toes
but the wind still kept its hand in its pocket
the grey humpies flowed back in and mottled and dimmed
everything the Bens across the valley behind me lost their playful bubbling upthrust
cloaked once again in massive mysterious dignity
although their heads still were bare and if they’d had hair the wind would have teased it
saying come on lover when it gets dark come to my room
so I headed back down the spongy heathered slopes to Derryinver
past the occasional black crescent gashes where the turf had slumped from itself
and the criss-crossing sheep’s paths, thin black and straight
down to that spicy thick perfume of
thousands of years being burned to warm the present
ah, the slow, slow deaths where the pain is stretched so thin you can’t feel it
those are among the best, and they give off a fine, peaty smell
now for a bowl of chowder and some tea