Brother Conall’s active prayer
A fictional account of one monk’s attempt to return to Ross Errilly friary when it was occupied by English soldiers during the nine years war.
The river is in her ninth month
water broken, the grass lapping.
Wilted whispers turn to moist surrender,
I slip in with the eels
shoes upon my head
my heart a swell in the throat.
The cold does not halt my urge.
When the moon is too bright
I swim where the water curls the reeds,
debris of the day thwarted by dark clay.
My arms are unsure,
the river has its own night ease
trees speak to the pebbles beneath,
I interrupt their parley.
Listen, a cormorant’s wings are the small thunder of my fear.
I see soldiers spread on our walls
King Henry is the spell that plunders
sacred space, expulsing men who pray.
But we are Machiavellian monks,
God hears us from the scrub.
Like the thrush, we are brown but glorious.
My body agitates the soil
still swimming, cloister side.
Stone has its own story
my hands touch grey notch and jag
words to a blind man, darkness
is known.... but steel is not.
I cannot see the blood but hear
the jubilant archer’s cry.
My eyes close on the sight of the cross.
Listen, a cormorant’s wings are the small thunder of my release.