Clodagh Brennan Harvey

Terminal Moraine & Bedrock

Clodagh Brennan Harvey

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Terminal Moraine

I sleep on my side now,

as the doctor ordered.

But it is not peaceful sleep.

I become, instead, a mountain range,

craggy foothills that through the night

feel the gush of torrents,

old leaves and dead branches

trying to save themselves,

to cling to something.

In the tumult, windows appear.

I open one

to glimpse a small cell,

disordered, dirty, dank,

its paint peeling,

its walls spattered with mud.

It is empty of meaning,

waiting for me to do something.

I am shaken by these antitheses,

an unbearable watch.

As the dream recedes,

I am left with its cruel residue,

the detritus of a glacier I birthed

but do not understand.


Nearly every day

I have an urge to phone you

with a child’s faith

that you’ll put things right.

Only you will do.

In my dreams

I run toward you

in my pale blue coat, waving

as I pass your former selves:

enthraller of men,

casual betrayer,

trickster and consummate performer—

no artifice beyond you

but all unimportant.

As I approach the age

of your last big birthday celebration

my thoughts return to bedrock,

to the time you put a stop

to those ancient, first humiliations

meted out to me by a teacher.

You set your seal upon me then

and acknowledgment comes now with surprising ease:

my soul bends unreservedly towards you,

first defender of a small, angry child.

Clodagh Brennan Harvey

Clodagh Brennan Harvey has written extensively on the Irish storytelling tradition and aspects of cultural heritage, including Contemporary Irish Traditional Narrative: The English Language Tradition (University of California Press, 1992). Poetry is now the focus of her writing. “The Reconciliation Reel” appeared in the anthology Between the Light and the Half Light (Belfast: Shalom House Poetry, 2015) and ‘Psychopomp on Venice Beach” appeared in On the Grass When I Arrive (Derry: Guildhall Press, 2016). Her poem “Queue” was short-listed for the 2015 Bridport Prize.