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Furze fires cast a pall over the coast

  • 22 April 2014

Mute swans of Lough Ine

In the oxygen blue of the saltwater lougha pair of swans snag glare from a deepworld as intense as the clear-felled once was,intense as preservation and famine wallsor the creek whose rapids feed tidal saltan inland sea concentrated in basin and trough;redmouth gobies and sunstars and hydroidsindivisible declared loudly on signs to fathomreflection, those seahares, dogwhelks and fifteen-spined sticklebacks, porcelain crabs breakingthe glaze of information, how we read pristineanomalies as swans paddle over verticalsunafraid of what might come from below,heads dipping into the looking glass.

Furze fires cast a pall over the coast

You can see them cover the red sandstone rangeand spread over bogs from a vantage point highon Clear Island, furze fires that heat winterto spite itself. And leaving the island you catchan old man igniting a hedgerow, fire sucking lightand throwing its carpet of smoke — no yellowflowers, just flame against itself. Irish breaksinto English and vice versa, and clapped-out carsrise up from the southern harbour. Gulls balanceprecarious rocks. Cows out on the mainlandtaste drab, smoky air and wish for their sheds,dark and suffocating, smelling of themselvesand the rot of feed and stale light. Some cowscaught furze flowers through winter bars,managing to put on a show, faint births,though now furze blooms in hay-feverish gloryand are cut down in their prime on islandand mainland alike, the Atlantic absorbingwhat it can, definition of blurred land.

John Kinsella's most recent volume of poetry is The Vision of Error: A Sextet of Activist Poems. He is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University.