Ritual Remembered Poem by Martin Swords

Martin Swords

Tiglin, Wicklow, Ireland

Ritual Remembered



stood on the Vartry bridge by Hunters watching the river spill…
collecting my thoughts on the boiled egg ritual…
two eggs in water… bring to the boil… boil for one minute only…
remove from heat... leave eggs in hot water for two minutes…
done… slowly… patiently…just so… sounds and smells bring it all back…
intruding thoughts…Tantum Ergo Sacramentum... chasubles… thuribles…
a cloud of incense carry guilty prayers to Heaven… Hail Holy Queen…to thee do we send up our sighs…mourning and weeping …in this valley of tears…the ritual of Catholic guilt... women of shame…men drunk in anger…… poor banished children of Eve…prepare the plate… three egg cups, one for butter…salt cellar... pepper cellar… ground white pepper only, no posh pepper… Introibo ad altare Deum… ad Deum qui laetificat… intoned the voice in words only he and God could understand…
while everyone looked and listened reverently, evidently a nice little ritual…
knife…egg spoon… sharp toothed egg topper…eight toast soldiers…
and did you take pleasure… yes Father...what’s the point if you didn’t take pleasure… what would there be to be sorry for... three Hail Marys and an Our Father...
I confess to almighty…hoping to remember the middle and the end… or that the confusion would be lost in the priest’s latin… always the same… pleasure… guilt… Our Father…no pleasure… not sorry…ritual… schmitual...we loved it...we hated it.
top the eggs and set aside… sprinkle salt and pepper on tops,
and on eggs… knobs of butter all round… start by eating the two tops
while the butter melts into the eggs…then begin on the soldiers,
two dips per soldier…such comfort in small things… in small things…remember when a boiled egg was a treat in a blue and white stripy egg cup…
or held hot in a cone shape of newspaper…was that in the valley of tears… afterwards turn the empty eggshells upside down in the egg cups and recall the tricks your father played on you… remember your father… ritual...
down on the shallow gravel in mid river two long tailed yellowy grey wag tails
flit and make a Passover ritual of any insect from the sacred stones upturned…
is this their boiled egg, their communion… I’ve been before on a bridge thinking…
and then now… perhaps on some other bridge soon I’ll think and remember…
is this a ritual…or just standing on a bridge listening for a line, fishing for a phrase… it’s a ritual…homage to small things…the remembering ritual.




Martin Swords Prompt Poems “Ritual” April 2008

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Martin Swords

Tiglin, Wicklow, Ireland
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