(after paintings by  Micheal MacGruary)

        I cannot remember when  I first noticed her
watching me. I  think for years I only felt her scrutiny.
By the time I began to watch back, her image was deeply
painted within me. I picture her most clearly standing
at the head of a steep valley watching the only approach
at the distant mouth which opens unto a fair plain
where she seldom goes.

        She could be sixteen years old, or eighty:
She stretches to my knowing thus. Standing always
in one spot, she grasps a smooth black stone.
Her stare penetrates with a hint of accusation now
as though I had stolen a secret or violated her solitude.
I know, for example, the trouble she had with her hat;
getting the wool to felt, with thistles and wild flowers
boiled and squeezed setting the deep blue. How I cherish
her hands, that show the wear of much such lovely work.

        Perhaps we were destined only to witness
the other, across oceans, across epochs. Maybe
she hails from past lives of my own, or perhaps she
waits to steal my soul. Whatever her venue,
she looks so good in the hat she made, and her flannel
cassock sheens with the same dark blue, with an intricate
Celtic knot embroidered in silver thread at the front.
She wears a braided leather bracelet, and an iron dagger
dangles at her side. The knot of her gaze pierces
my feeble vision to surround me with the burning
boundary of her reserve.

        As enemy or lover, I could not bear her, yet we are so


© Carlton Godbold 1987

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