Irish Manor

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Irish Manor  
Their backs scorched in morning light, a flock
            of white birds moved on the distance. I never
felt more surrounded by vast distances, as bird
            by sky rowing bird, and minute by time eating
minute, the bushy head of a far off oak filled,
            already delirious with wind, filled with clattering
birds. Life or spirit? You said life to make it all seem
            a mere part of nature’s scientific method. The spirit
resides above and I said, a tree’s spirit must grip knuckle-deep
            in the soil to span its wide grip of sky,
that only fails in the passing music of wind. The uncaught wind
            moves across the landscape, the shuddering
on day’s soft belly of land, on fields in the distance
            where cattle graze. In Ireland they know, it’s what fails
that sings. It’s the captured things, the mute things, that fold away
            neatly into boxes. Beauty, the vehicle on the long road
through history, flames in the past and sparkles
            on the future. The oak’s failure to root in its tantalizing
sky rattles day in its sun-drenched salad of a crown.
            The manor house was a gift from Cromwell
to a senior officer. It’s a pretty thing, a Georgian jewel, that expresses
            the tar-covered dead of Droghada who were hung from trees
or hoisted on roadside spikes as tear drops of Waterford glass
            tinkling in a chandelier. Wind through the branches, light
through glass and through my hand as morning’s bright shoulder
            broke shadow, slicing the dark’s warm cover.