Mountain Spine

by Sinéad Griffin

When I was small and she was ancient, I’d sit far 

away, puzzle the maze of her face. Her cottage

once a safe house, she set a place for the stranger 

all the rest of her life. I didn’t like to sit

next to the empty plate, I was never brave.

Now, when clouds cloak the cairn at Tibradden, 

and ancients reclaim sepulchre and skull, 

on the hillside at Cruagh, rebel dead rise 

defiant, chief among them, my great-grandmother. 

Wrinkles dissolved into mountain, the moon exposes

the labyrinth of her bones. Rosary beads looped 

around her phalanges, clavicle a lasso 

of pearls. Bare bones that bridged the gap of danger, 

mother of mothers become land, become sovereign.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem will feature on the Poetry Jukebox installation in IMMA from October 2023 to April 2024.