Thursday, October 25, 2007

At work, My Grandfather

This is the eulogy for my grandfather I wrote many years ago; strictly speaking I don't consider it Juevenilia but it comes chronilogically around this time so I've included it. The first four lines are the Epithet writeen for him by Fr Herman Nolan CP and are inscribed on his gravestone.

At Work, My Grandfather.

Scent of Incense, Glue and Varnish Cease;
Perfect O Lord, thye instrument of Peace.
Fr Herman Nolan CP

I saw my Grandfather at work,
bent. He was old by then
and whitehaired, my father
dark and upright.

I watched the old man
handle wood like it was
his lover; all his tenderness
and poetry in the making

of a single rib - to
play Eve, I suppose
to some Violin.
He had Pianist's hands

like a lady's at the tips
but hard and calloused
at the palm. He used to
work, in the fields at

Summer and at Autumn
and he had cleared land
himself and stood shirtless
in the sun

And worked through the rain.


Now he was where he had belonged
in his own father's place;
his craft he plied, to my child's
eyes, with consumate grace.

I smelt the incense
and he told me the glue
was jelly - that was the story
I have always remembered.

The image of him frail
in gone from my mind;
of his time with us in sickness
i remember only that

mammy and I once cleaned his room
and I sat on the stairs
and cried, when they said
he had gone, and meant "died."

But I remember
I saw my grandfather at work
in a room, surrounded by
shavings, and the smell of wood and glue.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne


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