Four Walls

by Bernadette Gallagher

I am of stone, cold to the touch — 

slate roof on wooden beams hides the night sky. 


Fire in the rooms below sends no heat above. 

Eight children I sheltered — their mother, a widow 


after one year with me. My walls are full of words

words of love and fear, of sadness and wonder. 


Inner walls, pink — outside, light green,

in-between I am all crumbly. 


I was seven when they spoke of war

the first for them and for me. 


I captured freedom, independence, fight to the end 

and more in the same vein. 


I saw smoke from Macroom Castle 

and mourned my sister in stone. 


After twenty-five years the chill of another war 

scattered souls that visit in Spring and early Summer 


and return home with the swallows. A calf pushes 

his way into this world, birds fly with mouths of twigs,


a cat wakes from hibernation to hunt his prey.

Two foals stand close together.

Bernadette Gallagher is a poet from Donegal living in County Cork. She is a recipient of The Arts Council Agility Award 2021. Her poetry is published in, among others, The Stinging Fly, The North, Stony Thursday, The Frogmore Papers, Dreich, Southword and recorded by the University College Dublin Poetry Archive and the Words Lightly Spoken podcast.

Cover Image:  National Folklore Collection UCD . Folklore Photograph Collection. Ref: A015.20.00022