White Irish

                                              for Maureen Mullen (6/19/61--3/17/10) 

The squall left a scrim of lace

last week upon the cross-

thatched summer screen door.

How cool the hum of peace

was, coming to, called to

order as it were lolling

in the hub of wherein

your fascinations smolder.

There, in a nook where only

you would go---

your working spot---a drawing

table beside the washing machine,

particulars of womanly mind un-

folded and fell in line.


You claimed the turf,

your broom the brush

a white witch commands

to push clouds around

the room then leans

against a wall,

a flute filled with sand.


Therein your fervent interest in

herding stars in order to better

harness or release them

to their driving


that cycles

and remains

in evidence.


(Okay. I’m coming over.) It

lies, a spray of doubt

shed upon the Turkish purple

your fertile certitude and crescent

and cross and star

of David hover over.

The terra firma your investigation

fairgrounds ever are and

shall be, Selah. Shiver.


Here and there your free-

range gods and graces amble and try

the circle dance we might

call “The Color Wheel.”

All join the reel and whir

would that such centrifugal

force might draw you back.


But my baby

blues see little just

salt and burning wetness

as I go off this mid-March night.

Your gallows Saint Patrick’s Day

joke sinks not

fully in. Your mettle

gave up but your lubricity refused

the ghost. Your last words, ones

only a painter would say

to a poet, leapt out as from

a harp to indicate you were already half-

way there, dwelling—


Next, the yellow

promise of spring jutting

skyward in sharps

rushed at you with its naked glory

blades. Heaven now

and then is more than anyone

deserves but we Irish had you for

a spell. You put on our lashing

lilt and wit with changeling

zeal. As much love as ever

I have had for any

woman makes me want

to hurl a rock at God,

but your tenderness holds me

back. “Tender,” your favorite word,

Oh, how it trumps as it harrows,

invites as it renders,

advances as it retreats, comes in

on cue, cool as marble, but swift

like the revolving door your mind in

drive ever is which stops just

long enough for this intoning clod

of the auld—


As a child I wanted nothing more than

a sister, and now I have you

whom I wish tonight it were

in me to love less

as you head to the house of the

It’s hard. Your capacious

eye still narrows in a squint

to flash just one

step ahead of your Lucifer

guffaw as you find me

for the last time

funny. How it takes

your voice by surprise.


How can you be gone

to where the Holy

Spirit’s got your back?

Until I get there, please have mine.

I will see you again.

Everywhere, I will

see you. Meanwhile,


this; the snow was general over Brooklyn

the week your pallor got the best of you.

You became white as a

sail and flew the flag   

that was the sum of all colors.

Then shovel, trowel—


May your vessel prove dream-

worthy, its canvas full and perfect

as a belly gravid.


May your travels be

soft as your hair

upon the Queen Mary-blue


your uncommon confidence

continues to be as with flair

you set sail for those ascending depths

where I pray our God will deliver you

from evil, but not temptation.