BARBARA SINEAD SMITH
A WOMAN'S WORK
(After Kavanagh and Heaney)
My granny used to soak the spuds too
making it easy to peel them later.
Part of morning's ritual was topping
their pot with water . Later, after
fowl were fed and tae and bread were eaten
she'd peel them slowly; humming all the while
Moore's medley of almanac songs.
Steeping my potatoes now, as she did,
brings her four green fields down the years to me.
Scaly and red, my Roosters, instead of
her soft Queens; mine tattle of tractor harrow;
long scars that I smooth away with stainless
peeler. I rinse them down, split them with a
long broad knife and leave them by for dinner.
1. Roosters, Queens - types of potatoes currently grown in Ireland.
2. Moore's Old Almanac - an almanac giving tides, moon dates and other info. useful to farmers.
3. Four green fields - an Irish Ballad.
As the focus shifts onscreen,
layers of fat and bladder give
way to an image; teeth buds, skull,
arms, hands. A curlicue spine
all turned out from one fertilized
nucleus; one zygote.
And the focus shifts -
the factory needed workers;
they came in droves, with
builders and roofers all tumbling after.
No call was made; they just came.
The suburbs rose from
one side street, one city.
Another slide show shows
the glass house exposed;
it's inhabitants have been
here fifteen years, watched
by a greater being. Their queen
laid a future (after a one night
stand - and he died!)
that emerged howling
into the man-made storm
of tomorrow's world.
So, we prod that mass,
manipulate the medium;
watch flora atrophy from
the empty vessels fulcrum.
We share a future grown
by mould, fledged onscreen;
reduced to zero and one
and all the fractions
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