The Bees in the Privet

The privet hedge that once grew tall
above the ditch that ran from the Chapel
to the top of Dasher’s Hill was great
shelter for the passers-by –

for Mrs Carberry on her way to mass at seven,
for Sean Byrne’s horse and cart on the creamery run,
for Bill Johnston and the Farmer, for Paddy in the bread van,
for Mrs McCreary, clicking along in her neat high heels,
for Mairead Parker in stout walking shoes,
for Eileen Byrne with her shopping bag,
for the Bolgers, the Sinnotts and the Brien girls,
meandering their way from school,
for workmen come to help with hay at Littermore.

The bees in the privet that once grew tall
above the ditch that ran from the Chapel
to the top of Dasher’s Hill took sustenance
from blossom undisturbed for lifetimes –

from whitethorn in the Priest’s Field,
from clover in the Hill Field and the Lower,
from lady’s smock in the Moor and the Bog,
from meadowsweet on Ballylurkin Lane,
from broom in Codd’s Field and the Sandpit,
from the vetch and loosestrife near the Frogloch,
from Parker’s orchard and from Archie Griffin’s
model garden, from the lilac tree that, like some
lone survivor of a scorched earth policy,
still grows beside Miss Redmond’s yard gate.

Mary O’Brien (from Waiting for the Lights)
Shortlist 2014 North West Words Poetry Prize.

Poems

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