“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”
– James Joyce, The Dead, 1914
The veil has thinned
and burned away
into broad daylight.
It isn’t cold enough for snow:
not that it ever is nowadays
the idea of snow
being ‘general all over Ireland’
distant and magical.
Distant and magical like the past,
when as children we celebrated
‘Snow days.’ Now we mourn the loss
of the sparkling glitter of frost
breath pealing out in smoke rings:
The dark half of the year begins in
late September for me
when my Grandmother passed through the veil
I wasn’t there, but glad I’d had the chance to say goodbye
Years earlier, my Mother
passed over the Stygian river
in early October.
Now, we start the journey to December
when my Sister died
most recent of all the partings:
still too soon.
There’s no shielding me from death
I experienced it too early
perhaps that’s why
I can look the death of the planet straight in the eye:
it’s not the death of the whole planet, really
the rock will stay
the heaving heart of iron
the sea, most probably won’t dry.
New life will spring
out of the ashes of our ignorance
new creatures will be born
perhaps blessed with a new intelligence.
between the land of the living and the dead
we learn the value of a universal currency
and call it love.
© 2021 experimentsinfiction.com. All Rights Reserved.
Written for earthweal
This week, Brendan has given us the following challenge:
Let’s invite the wide community of the lost — family members and their ancestors, Paleolithic kills and animals gone extinct, meteors which travelled from the remote universe to burn up in our atmosphere, sandy beaches composted of the shells of sea-life, ghostly coral savannahs, the life we consumed with last night’s dinner. Let’s see what an assembly we can summon, and by doing so, experience the incredible dimensions we share.
For this challenge, celebrate ALL SOULS.
Today, in Slovenia, it’s ‘Dan Mrtvi’ or ‘Day of the Dead,’ relatives will visit the graves of loved ones and place candles at the headstones. I have no loved ones buried here, so I remember them in poetry instead: