A Poem for Ciaran

The stroll from my cell
along the path above the donkeys
past a door open, a door shut
and a strong smell of wood
and cigarettes ends where
music helps white marguerites
cut through the masonry. 
Dark for words with a clicking wren
a yellow tit and over the clover a
shovel and a rustle of grain.
He’s training calves with shouts and food
to follow him to another field
before the second bell.
Broom loops over the buttercups. 
These names
give birth to cones and needles, ferns
with mini-sacs of pollen attached.
It only takes one shot of spittle on green
for my brother to explain the sexual life
of the forest and honeybees.
Simon says he would like to live alone
in a cottage with a garden,
no humans, no obligations.  Solitary
I prefer a pod while he likes hives.
We confess we both wear armor
outside our habitats.
Water was our first armor before our skin.
Then came the bristle of sunshine.
And a thickening of blood into oil
or syrup in the lower veins.
I hate the thistledown
covering my prototype now
interior layer cowering at power
or shout, but can laugh
with the one who has sap under
his skin pouring the bucket
the hand is carrying.
Brother, help me find an animal
who will rescue me from
sharp delirium of fear beyond armor
and my friends the birds
by an open window:  to be clear
would be wonderful.
A sigh without the ghostly gasps
that accompany a certain voice.
Still I still do desire more
of the kind no one can see or hear.
Not that second, rasping breath of triumph.
Find me instead
more like the breathy Saint Bernard.
But a little dog
A cask of brandy hanging at his neck

Fanny Howe, "A Poem for Ciaran." Copyright © 2015 by Fanny Howe Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.
Source: PoetryNow (PoetryNow, 2015)
More Poems by Fanny Howe