Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: “Direction” by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
In this poem, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin reflects on the soft, rather than distinct, boundary lines which define what is past, present, and future. In “Direction,” as the narrator delves into her father’s former struggles to locate his position in the now, she points to how events that have already passed illuminate the present and provide a guiding hope for what is to come. This poem is taken from The Boys of Bluehill, published by Wake Forest University Press in 2015. Her newest collection, The Mother House, was realeased this month.
Searching about again to find my father
I must take a step backwards, for in the time
since I last saw him he has moved and changed
more than in all of his life—
he is a mountain becoming a mountain range,
a sliding dance of peaks, their names picked from his list:
the words remembered from the internment camp
that gave him his phobia of candles, his cardplaying codes,
the pipe he never smoked with its ivory bowl.
As he believed that foreign words were real,
their declension revealing even what crawled away
refusing to be learned—in that belief
so many troubles he shed, he leaves
me what I would leave behind for you:
they need not last forever;
they need not lay you forever low.
–Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, from The Boys of Bluehill (2015)
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