If you could awaken, Daniel Doyle,
From your slumber under this Irish soil,
We could explore your trails and trials:
Your great-grandson and his child,
Narrowing blood links, coming from afar
Via bed-and breakfast, plane and car,
To learn of your culture and visit awhile
At your resting place, Our Lady's Isle,
Where you're landlocked near the sea
With Eleanor of the clan of Whitty.
In this quiet abandoned byre
Of the emerald green of lovely Eire,
A yellow riot of gorse splashes,
Adorning head markers with necklaces;
The stony briefs of the departed abound,
Some tipsy on their exclusive ground,
Closed now to the newly dead,
Who must look further for a bed.
Few bother to disturb your dust,
Save those with bonds to you like us,
Kept apart by emigrations;
Conducting muted conversations;
Hesitant to disturb the sleeping,
Drawn here now by heritage-seeking.
We muse at your graveside, Daniel Doyle;
When Statia left, did your temper roil;
Did you plow the fields at daybreak;
Troll for fish in the harbor and lake;
Were you a sober man or a bit of a rake
When a touch of the Irish grape
Quickened impulses and kept Eleanor awake?
Your secrets are hidden away;
We know little of how you spent your days;
Or what manner of man you became;
Of regional prominence or of village fame;
Whether we have your nose or eyes
Or temperament or are as wise.
Your children are gone now or dazed
In the nodding years marking age;
Those you knew in Enniscorthy town
Who once had clues cannot be found;
And a meager few know or care
In the fishing harbor of Rosslare
Where some of your flesh still stirs;
But clan reunion no longer occurs.
Did Eleanor stand in our place,
Mingling the tears from her sad face
With your blanket, only to rejoin you,
When her lonely moments ebbed and flew,
Later in this narrow bed
Where you now lie head-to-head?
But while alive memories would flow
Igniting once more an inner glow,
Of your youthful years together:
Walking hand-in-hand across the heather;
The awesome beauty of flowering Spring;
When hearts are youthful and gay and sing;
Gathering sheaves as the moon rises higher
Winter evenings before a peat fire;
Of church prayers, baptisms and births;
Wakes and flute music, dancing and mirth;
The agony of good-byes during famine,
Never to embrace the children again;
How sand ran out on a companion's life
And left a vacuum for a lonesome wife.
Perhaps her steps would be retraced,
On Sundays, locks shrouded in Irish lace;
By now she had accepted the bitter cup,
So she would arrange plants and tidy up,
With aging hands she caressed and smoothed
While her lips silently moved,
Remembering the good times with you
Before death stilled you at forty-two.
Like ours, her eyes would sweep the glade:
Tall trees for comforting shade
To temper the summertime heat
And strum music in the hum and beat
As the wind sighs a refrain,
Timed with the drip of Springtime rain.
In essence, nature appears to grieve;
The pelting breeze ruffles the leaves
And moving onward seizes upon
The spotless feathers of lazy swans,
Gliding with their usual grace
With a calm, unhurried pace
Within sight of a church spire,
Truly a high flyer,
Thrusting against gathering clouds this day,
Across the slate-gray bay.
And nearby the arches and once-tall
Stony blocks of tilting walls:
Remnants of a Norman fort,
Reduced now to children's sport.
And gleaming before the ancient site,
A statue of the Virgin, white
And placed to mark the legend
Of her sojourn to this isle's end.
Grandparents, we ache to know you better,
Denied as we are a photo or letter;
Now we must return to the land
Your teenager once thought so grand;
But found it instead loveless, and bored,
Returned to sister Maggie in Wexford.
We leave this tribute by our child,
Tina, her golden hair blowing wild
And dampened by the cool raindrops;
Her eyes wide with wonder and thought,
Bends reverently and gently lays
A wildflower on your grave.