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In the lull just after
MeKenna's reel, a girl
with a port-wine
stain upon her
throat stood delicate
as a heron, while
the hard-faced farmers
all froze. Head tilted
and both eyes closed,
she soared two octaves
and trilled as a local
grocer hummed
the drone. The surf
and bramble of Irish
syllables filled
the pub between
sill and lintel,
sweeter than linnets,
more urgent than
a crow. And the scent
of raw lavender
was anchored in it,
thrifty and radiant
as a mouse's clean
bones. Not even
the barman dared
clink a glass,
and every villager
listened, as her
wordless notes
shivered, then rose.
A century ago
on winter nights
like this, to the tune
of no instrument
but such a supple
tongue, two dozen
outlaw couples
in a shuddered
room whirled
and shuffled
to defy the priests
who banned the flutes
and smashed every
fiddle on a stone.
Within the hushed
Moment before chat
and porter could
once again flow,
she held every eye
with the weary glow
of a wilting lily,
and the wind outside
was talking treason,
quiet as a woodbine
embroidering a trellis
or native moss
softening the nest
of a seaside heron
just after she's flown.
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Article Details
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Author:Smith, R.T.
Publication:Atlanta Review
Article Type:Poem
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Mar 22, 2019
Previous Article:Psalm: God of the Syllable.
Next Article:Children in the Church.

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