Recommended Reading: Anything By Eaven Boland

I have a few friends who are fans of Eaven Boland, and their fandom is kind of infectious. Boland is pretty amazing. I featured a poem of hers last year during National Poetry Month, and it’s high time we read another. I really love how she addresses the connection between people and environment and the soul, but that is a topic of professional interest to me, so I see it all over the place in literature. What do you think of this poem?

Anna Livia Plurabelle, pictured here at its original location on O'Connell Street in Dublin.
Anna Livia Plurabelle, pictured here at its original location on O’Connell Street in Dublin.

And Soul
by Eaven Boland

My mother died one summer–
the wettest in the records of the state.
Crops rotted in the west.
Checked tablecloths dissolved in back gardens.
Empty deck chairs collected rain.
As I took my way to her
through traffic, through lilacs dripping blackly
behind houses
and on curbsides, to pay her
the last tribute of a daughter, I thought of something
I remembered
I heard one, that the body is, or is
said to be, almost all
water and as I turned southward, that ours is
a city of it,
one in which
every single day the elements begin
a journey towards each other that will never,
given our weather,
the ocean visible in the edges cut by it,
cloud color reaching into air,
the Liffey storing one and summoning the other,
salt greeting the lack of it at the North Wall and,
as if that wasn’t enough, all of it
ending up almost every evening
inside our speech–
coast canal ocean river stream and now
mother and I drove on and although
the mind is unreliable in grief, at
the next cloudburst it almost seemed
they could be shades of each other,
the way the body is
of every one of them and now
they were on the move again– fog into mist,
mist into sea spray and both into the oily glaze
that lay on the railings of
the house she was dying in
as I went inside.


2 thoughts on “Recommended Reading: Anything By Eaven Boland

  1. You know my feelings about Boland. 🙂 Funny you should post this; my Irish lit class is talking about Boland today. I read most of her collected poems this week. There are so many good ones! I think my all-time favorite, though, is “That the Science of Cartography is Limited.” I never get over that one.

  2. I totally agree, Shanna. My all-time favorite poem is “That the Science of Cartography is Limited,” the ideas behind it really framed my sacred spaces class this semester.

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