“I kept turning to the horse, / erect in stillness and gravity / and a strange promise of balm,”
County Clare, Ireland
At the jagged stone fence pocked with lichen
and moss, the wild horse stood tall, speckled-grey
tinged silver like a beacon of moonlight,
ears perked. It stared at me
as I stood beside the car, waiting
for my husband and daughter to return
from hopping the rain-sieved limestone
down to the bristling sea and back
while I worried for their safety,
while I worried for my mother
across the Atlantic and fading fast
from lesions we did not know had spread.
I kept turning to the horse,
erect in stillness and gravity
and a strange promise of balm,
as if sentinel
on the border between worlds.
From Mothershell by Andrea Potos. ©Andrea Potos and reprinted by permission of Kelsay Books.
Listen to Andrea Potos read “Burren Messenger.”
Potos shared her insight with S&H:
This poem was born after a June trip to beautiful counties Clare and Galway in Ireland. My mother had been wrestling with lung cancer for some months. By the time we were scheduled to leave for our trip, she wasn’t doing well, but we all believed she was simply struggling with the aftermath of intense radiation treatments. Not even the doctors thought otherwise. Yet still I worried, and was eager to return to her.
That afternoon on the Irish coast, the sprawling gray stones and the wuthering and windy landscape seemed to meld with my worries. I noticed a gorgeous horse standing nearby, completely still and watching. We both stood for a long time, and the horse became a kind of comforting omen to me. I couldn’t know the future; my hopes and my fears were fiercely intertwined. It became a beautiful reminder to me of all the ways that nature may offer us solace, perspective, and patient, quiet knowing.