An Image

This morning I attended Mass at St Catherine’s Dominican Church, said by Fr Tumelty of Dromalane. Yesterday I got Mass in Notre Dame, Paris and the day before at Sacre Coeur, Montmartre. Congregations dwindle everywhere.

Our poem today relects on Mass in days long ago in Lislea. Former Abbey teacher Hugh Murphy was an illustrious local poet.


An Image


I remember them standing

On a Sunday morning

Shifting their feet

On the stone yard

Each the master

Of his own authority

Heads pinioned

In speech

Coats pulled tight

Around the waist,

Decked out in caricature

To honour the mystery

Once a week

With the paper waiting

In the rusty van

To be bought and carried


For their Sunday feast of idleness.


The headlines read

In awkward silence

In the first moment

Of uncertainty

When the intellectual burden

Was thrust in caroused hand;

And they stand, definite,

Tomorrow unquestioned

In their sense of purpose

A commonplace

As sure as market day

Or the threshing meet.

Each frozen in my memory

About to turn

Or take a step

Quick-set in their certainty.


All gone

But for the fragile image.

Lislea graveyard

In its hasty greed

Has gulped their wandering feet.

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