The Long Evenings of Their Leavetakings

By Eavan Boland b. 1944 Eavan Boland
My mother was married by the water.
She wore a gray coat and a winter rose.

She said her vows beside a cold seam of the Irish coast.

She said her vows near the shore where
the emigrants set down their consonantal n:

on afternoon, on the end of everything, at the start of ever.

Yellow vestments took in light.
A chalice hid underneath its veil.

Her hands were full of calla and cold-weather lilies.

The mail packet dropped anchor.
A black-headed gull swerved across the harbor.

Icy promises rose beside a crosshatch of ocean and horizon.

I am waiting for the words of the service. I am waiting for
keep thee only and all my earthly.

All I hear is an afternoon’s worth of never.

Source: Poetry (April 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2013
 Eavan  Boland

Biography

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1944. The daughter of a diplomat and a painter, Boland spent her girlhood in London and New York, returning to Ireland to attend secondary school in Killiney and later university at Trinity College in Dublin. Though still a student when she published her first collection, 23 Poems (1962), Boland’s early work is informed by her experiences as a young wife and mother, and her growing . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Marriage & Companionship, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION Ireland

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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