The Visiting Cat Discovers Sean-Nós

I’m listening to an old recording,
Séan ‘Ac Dhonncadh, casette player
near the window, when suddenly the cat
outside leaps up to sit, takes note.

Her ears prick up at the nasal drone,
alert to the ancient, perhaps oriental
sound, then quiver (in appreciation, I imagine),
at each vocal ornament the singer makes.

Her whiskers twitch and she seems to
cat-smile, looks as if she’s purring with
contentment, her slant eyes opening when each
song ends, closing again when the next begins.

The slow songs she likes best, I think,
An Bonnán Buí, Anach Cuain,
and in particular, like myself indeed,
she appreciates Bean an Fhir Rua.

The recording finished, she stands
to stretch herself and lick her lips,
and satisfied, goes off across the grass,
her stripey ginger tail held high.

Next time I’ll play Joe Heaney or perhaps
Nan Tom Taimín, and she’s sure to love
Nioclás Toibín, his Munster songs, Eochaill,
Spailpín a Rún, his amazing vocal range.

Mary O’Brien, (from Waiting for the Lights, Boland Press)
Commended in 2014 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize.



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