by Karen J. McDonnell

In memory of my grandfather

A treeling was found on a hillside
in a borderless place,
and replanted in settled Fermanagh land.
Unique Irish Yew.

The first to stand upright
as famine and rebellions rose,
felling all around her.

She had her own brood when he
was born to his father’s second wife;
a year older than the last century.
Her grandchildren rooted in churchyards
and declining demesnes.

Immortal tree of death,
woodturning, encircling time.
Blood-bright berries, bittering history.

She still stood in that northern place
when the schoolboy he once was
defied the Jesuits; leaping
over Mungret’s school walls,
looking for revolution in 1916.

Matriarch of witnesses,
her pinned leaves needled time
as a Border cordoned, and a nation grew.

Now your granddaughter stands,
aware of family trees,
in this place where you lie

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem featured on the Poetry Jukebox installations in Limerick & Derry from May-July 2023.