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EVA BOURKE

 

 

 

Eva Bourke

Eva Bourke is a poet and translator. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently piano (Dedalus 2011), several books of translations, and edited together with Borbála Faragó Landing Places. Immigrant Poets in Ireland (Dedalus 2010). She edited with Vincent Woods an anthology of contemporary authors on music, Fermata. Poets and Prose Writers Respond to Music, (Artisan House) due to be launched in September. She is a member of Aosdána.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer with Joan Miró in the Year of the Generals

 

 

Not Vegetable Garden with Donkey but

a garden the Pythia might have had

away from oracles, this orchard of orange trees

 

and dry, prickly grass where daily an old woman

shawled in black brought her chestnut stallion to feed

on the windfall fruit—we saw his shining

 

russet coat flash through the cross-

hatchings of light and shade. At night

she returned to fetch him, never replied

 

to calls or greetings, a prophetess,

we joked, with handfuls of black and white beans

in her pocket. We lived through that summer of heat,

 

downpours, lightning and thunder, careless,

in a ramshackle hay shed with erratic roof

tiling. When the wind rose before a storm and moved the trees,

 

the air filled with citrus smells and we closed

our eyes and saw Miró paintings of our own:

bird and insect constellations, cyphers

 

and star signs, the nocturnal centipedes

with which we shared the bare floor boards

of our room, black before orange.

 

In the evenings young men and women

came from the village to eat with us,

drink resinous wine and sing popular songs:

 

the general’s son, the spy, the lame-

footed dissident we nicknamed Oedipus,

Aliki, the goddess look-alike with flashing eyes.

 

And nightly before sunrise we heard it, a panting

and rustling in the dark garden, a hurried

unnamable activity, dry twigs snapping underfoot,

 

sounds of tearing, crackling, hissing, a growl, a throttled cry.

It was as though a ghostly militia were passing

through the garden, set on pillage and murder.

 

We never knew was it animal or human

and never rose to watch but every morning found

the relics of a feast or sacrifice strewn about,

 

gnawed bread, bones, shreds of paper, blood

or was it the red wine bottle turned over? After we left

we went our different ways, never talked

 

of the garden again. We were too afraid all our lives

to ask what the answer would have been for us:

white for yes, black for no.

 

 

 

©2016 Eva Bourke

 

 

Author Links

 

Eva Bourke publications at Dedalus Press

Eight poems and translations by Eva Bourke in The Galway Review

'Notes From Henry Street' and other poems by Eva Bourke at Lyrikline

 

 

 

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