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By Eavan Boland

My mother died one summer—

the wettest in the records of the state.

Crops rotted in the west.

Checked tablecloths dissolved in back gardens.

Empty deck chairs collected rain.

As I took my way to her

through traffic, through lilacs dripping blackly

behind houses

and on curbsides, to pay her

the last tribute of a daughter, I thought of something

I remembered

I heard once, that the body is, or is

said to be, almost all

water and as I turned southward, that ours is

a city of it,

one in which

every single day the elements begin

a journey towards each other that will never,

given our weather,

fail—

       the ocean visible in the edges cut by it,

cloud color reaching into air,

the Liffey storing one and summoning the other,

salt greeting the lack of it at the North Wall and,

as if that wasn’t enough, all of it

ending up almost every evening

inside our speech—

coast canal ocean river stream and now

mother and I drove on and although

the mind is unreliable in grief, at

the next cloudburst it almost seemed

they could be shades of each other,

the way the body is

of every one of them and now

they were on the move again—fog into mist,

mist into sea spray and both into the oily glaze

that lay on the railings of

the house she was dying in

as I went inside.


“And Soul” from DOMESTIC VIOLENCE by Eavan Boland. Copyright ©2007 by Eavan Boland. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Domestic Violence (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2007)

Poet Bio

Questions of identity— as an Irish woman, mother, poet, and exile— give rise to much of Eavan Boland’s poetry. She was born in Dublin, but grew up in London, where anti-Irish racism gave her a strong sense of her heritage. Irish history and myth also figure prominently in her work. The author of eight collections of poetry, she is also a professor of English at Stanford.

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