Poetry / March 2016 (Issue 31)

Bray Head

by Mantz Yorke

There are two paths. Three nuns in jackdaw greys
have chosen the right, up concrete steps
and through the gorse clumps, towards a cross
that’s clear-cut against the lowering sky.
I choose the gentler, muddier left, and meander

along the cliffs, unable to see the destination
of the railway below, but drawn on by spring's
indiscriminate strew – bluebells, stitchwort,
valerian and vetch, the treasury of pennywort
clinging to the stone, and always the promise

implicit in the next jut of rock. At the fork, signs
warned of weakening bridges: decades back,
this path was much more than a stroller’s trail,
but now there's only a hint of past importance –
an ivy’d ruin, with a clump of nettles discouraging

close inspection. Further on, I see the whitish
slabbiness of buildings – an amorphous huddle
where aeons ago slate and sandstone yielded
to the soothing caress of time. Without a map,
I can’t identify the town – maybe Greystones:

no matter, since I'll not get there and, anyway, rain
again is moving in. A brisk walk returns me
to the paths’ divide. The nuns too are back,
bending to gather posies of bracken-crooks,
the cross above them now veiled by cloud.
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