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Kathleen Cain


Ceann Dubh,* dark headland,
          cliff that climbs out of water
                   and carries on its back
                             green fields
                   divided by fathers
          among too many sons
for a thousand years.

Like clockwork
          like heartbreak
                   it's cliff and field
          cliff and field
for fifty miles upriver

But the dream of landfall begins
          the minute we rise over New York
                    floating in the belly of the air whale
          all eyes and breath—keen as eagles
off the coast of Newfoundland.

Mid-Atlantic, last harsh words
          from Hurricane Helene
                    keep the tail fishing air
                    all night, keep the Irish women
          at their prayers—mantra of rosaries
in harmony with the engines.

Morning keeps its distance
          not yet a certain point of light
                    inside dark clouds
                    but only one cloud
          less dark than others
with one hand up on the horizon.

We search fog banks
          big as islands below
                    for whales, ships
                    any flotsam, any
          life we might claim
and calm ourselves.

Waves shudder below
          a little longer then, until
                    cliff and field
                              are born beneath the wing

Michael will say later
          it was landfall near Dingle.
                    I'll say Clare, near the Arans
                    tell him how my spirit landed
          and grew a root
right on through to bedrock.

*An Ceann Dubh = ahn ky(ANN) doov: a promontory, also known as
Blackhead, situated on the western end of Great Blasket island, off
the Dingle Peninsula.