Michael Coady


They never look up at the round tower,
the weathering angels of Ardmore,
nor out to sea for invaders or friends coming in,
nor do they ever turn aside towards
Michael weighing the souls, or
Adam and Eve about to fall
under the tree nearby that's chiselled in stone.

If you freed your mind for a minute
you might imagine the two of them
gazing out from the heavens some night
and deciding to glide down, making
angelic approach along the Waterford coast
and landing at dawn on the round
tower of Ardmore, for this was a place

they'd heard about, with its saint
whose heaven-sent bell came sailing
over the sea on a floating rock,
and the thousands who gathered each year
on Declan's Day to pray and carouse
and hope for a cure.

A bell tolled noon and from their perch
they saw a crowd wend
out of the village and toil uphill
bearing a human child
to be laid in a hole in the ground
with prayers and reaching of hands
and embracing and tears -

so never again did they spread a celestial
wing except to descend and tenderly
turn to stone, over that freshly made
bed among haphazard cells of clay,
among humps and hollows of time
and memory dressed
in grasses and flowers
breaking from the unfillable
landfill up on the hill

topped by the tower
which men at sea
watch out for
while there's light.

And there they are still, the two
weathering angels of Ardmore,
keeping vigil in a place
where Solomon adjudicates
between the women and the child

a place I like to go
whenever I can if I'm on the road
skirting the coast from Dungarvan to Cork

drawn by unreason to turn
miles out of my way
and touch a fable
of fidelity and pity

now that I've come far enough to know
that reason's a useful thing
to show the way
but only as long
as the light is on.

And there's the heart of the thing -
set aside from the main road,
the elemental grace
and constancy of stone,
marking the mystery
of flesh and blood and bone

for it comforts me always to know
of the angels there in winter dusk
with all below in the village engrossed
in a clamorous box of shadows,
their windows double-glazed against
whatever may come.

Under all seasons
the weathering angels stand
with eyes cast down,
reflecting on innocent earth

telling all I can't hear,
showing all I can't see,
waiting for what I don't know

through ordinary hours
or dazzling noons,
mimed nocturnes of moonlight,
manic symphonies of storm,

on the honeycombed hill
with the finger of stone
that points to the dark and the stars
above land and sea in Ardmore.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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