Eaven Boland

Even if you read poetry now and then, you probably have not heard of Eaven Boland. That’s a shame. She’s basically amazing. I would not have known her poetry either except for a friend’s intrepid academic interest in all things Irish. Here’s a poem of Boland’s that I enjoy. Let me know what you think.

The Lost Land

I have two daughters.

They are all I ever wanted from the earth.

This is not Dublin, but it is Ireland, and it is beautiful.

Or almost all.

I also wanted one piece of ground:

One city trapped by hills. One urban river.
An island in its element.

So I could say mine. My own.
And mean it.

Now they are grown up and far away

and memory itself
has become an emigrant,
wandering in a place
where love dissembles as itself as landscape:

Where the hills
are the colours of a child’s eyes,
where my children are distances, horizons:

At night,
on the edge of sleep,

I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.
Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.

In this, I say
how they must have seen it,
backing out on the mailboat at twilight,

shadows falling
on everything they had to leave?
And would love forever?
And then

I imagine myself
at the landward rail of the boat
searching for the last sight of a hand.

I see myself
on the underworld side of that water,
the darkness coming in fast, saying
all the names I know for a lost land:

Ireland. Absence. Daughter.

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