The Electric Brae
Mr Mooney, our Geography teacher,
was dead on. He’d take our class on day-trips
after exams at the end of the year.
This year the place was Silent Valley,
in the heart of the Mournes, peaceful, serene
and a world away from the streets of Newry,
filled with the dogs of war, their havoc.
Spelga Dam, huge, Hooverian,
was our educational ‘reason for visit’.
With its geographical, mathematical,
socio-historical, etc. potential
for all kinds of field work, it seemed a bit dull
but that morning in June the sun was smiling
as the Oriel boys piled into our old
creaky school mini-bus, already half-dying
with the weight of us all, and we secretly knew
that the aims and objectives of this day were fun!
An expectation confirmed when the blue
skies above Spelga appeared cloudless with promise
and we gazed down into the dam water, searching
for a famous drowned village, our own lost Atlantis
or Hy Brasil, wondering were the Danann down there.
Then, on the way home, somewhere near Hilltown,
parked on a slope magic with mountain-flower
and whin, waiting in silence on board ship,
as the moaning and groaning jalopy’s old engine
stilled… cooled… Mr Mooney let slip
the tremulous handbrake… and we floated uphill
against the currents of gravity, history
and everything earthbound, transcendentalists all,
as the mini-bus freewheeled into the sky
taking flight, the heather below us ablaze.
Hallelujah, Hosanna, we all wanted to cry,
but not a soul spoke, gazing out on briared braes.