Listening In

by Margaret O'Driscoll

A man kneels in the garden on a fine July evening,
hunched over against the sky as he pulls clumps of weeds,
cursing the bindweed that has invaded his patch.
An elaborate network of roots spreading unhindered

through earth and shale, past stones and fissures,
exploding with new shoots that pierce and surprise,
tendrils that climb and choke flower stems and buds,
the roses unaware where their enemy would strike.

But you James O’Sullivan, knew how weeds assisted
pollination, you ‘listened in’ among roots, used the wind
to spread seeds that were cultivated along the shores
of Bantry Bay and the waters around Bere Island.

A fertile vegetation nurtured under the eye of ‘The Big Fellow.’
When I drive by his statue today, I raise my hand in homage
and say ‘Dia dhuit a Mhichíl.’

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Bantry Literary Festival in July 2023. The workshops were led by writer Thomas McCarthy.