Featured in her latest book, This Far
Bumping along in the backseat of a van,
we pilgrims watch nubs of granite
strewn across Beara hillsides, see waves
crash over skelligs and stone beaches.
Scrubby tufts of grasses, a knobby yew
or two and palm fronds rustle as we pass.
At Ardgroom, the bog-soggy climb
across fields and over laddered fences
ascending to the ancient circle of stones.
Angelus hour. The rays transform
us into seven new strokes of shadow
moving among tines cast already
for three thousand years of days. Heedless
of us, a larger circle of ewes and lambs
bray their offering out. Incense altar,
smoke and scent rising from this odd
patch: pilgrims, stones, grasses, mud −
all earth. I finger the water-worn,
lichened stones one by one, lay
hands on the warmth of all nine
Now mind the spirit
of whosever hands erected this:
kil, cashel, timepiece, sacred space.
Here our elements strike ancestral flint.
Moon and star shine, bonfires, all
have lit this height, stirred air
that sanctifies wells, cairns,
Kenmare waters, ourselves ¾
touched, tethered, aglow.
First published in Potomac Review (2014)
County Antrim Archeology
Vespers, Hunting Creek
O’Toole’s visionary poems explore the boundaries between light and dark, past and present, life and death.”