To help us grow a garden, my mother and father travelled
across the Bog of Allen and over the Wicklow Gap.

They’d have preferred to drive west to Galway or Mayo,
they’d have preferred a husband and children

but their daughter loved a woman. We’d have the table set
for breakfast: rashers, black pudding, fried bread and eggs.

When the soil had warmed, we unloaded shovels
and rakes, buckets of compost and the rusted iron bar

for prising out rocks. The back seat was thronged
with pots of seedlings my mother had nurtured all winter.

We worked to her bidding: loosen tangled roots before planting,
sow marigolds next to beans, sprinkle Epsom salts around roses.

My father took off on his own to spud ragwort or clip a hedge.
One day he spent hours gathering stones of different shapes and sizes.

By evening he’d built us a wall under the holly, held together
by gravity and friction, hearted with handfuls of spalls.



A Change in the Air

From A Change in the Air. Reproduced with kind permission of Bloodaxe Books.

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