Laura Potts

The Picture in Ireland

In the beginning was the bird on the hinge of spring,
and the misting flocks on the knoll’s wet chin
fled from the fox with his shot and gun. It was morning.
We sang up the sun with the Sunday hum-and-hymn

of Mam chiming down that patchwork land. Through
the nocturne town and far, past the blackthorn bowed to
prayer and vows that wilted in the air, the city threw
its lights on you. In the darkest heart of Belfast it was 1972.

That dawn of last and longest death, we woke the eyelid
of the day and laid the dark to rest. I remember, kid, the
wind
blew like a passing breath and in that way it always did
the forest sang beneath your step. And in the sooner-far
ahead,

the meadows fled away from where the dark things slept.
With Dad’s flat cap upon your head, coughing back a
cigarette
whose end you never met, you ran a mile electric with
the planets
in your eyes. You drew the bows of playground boys while
I, yes,

the star that fell behind, shook and sweated lemons at the
sin
of passing church. You never cared for that. You never
tipped
your hat. You laughed and cursed and spat the cleric’s
sermons to the last, and that was that. Always just good
craic.

But at the blast, beneath the drums of Carthage all the
stars
unhinged and fled. And you, kid, who leapt the fire-heart
ahead
left only scraps of wind to gasp the passing of your death.
For in your last and loudest steps the decades fled
beneath your legs,

and past the chapel-arch ahead, a diadem upon your
head,
you raised a weeping rag of red. You warned the living of
the dead.
And said that prayer you’d never said, but it was lost
instead.
And in those gobbet-drops of flesh wept Our Lady
overhead.

I waved and mouthed a broken vowel which you would
never see.
And saw you in the longest light, where you will always be.

Laura Potts is twenty-four years old and lives in West Yorkshire. Twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her work has been published by Aesthetica, The Moth and The Poetry Business. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was nominated for The Pushcart Prize and became one of the BBC’s New Voices in 2017. Her first BBC radio drama aired at Christmas. She received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018 and a nomination for The Forward Prize in 2019