Tired of burnings, bulldozers, charred lungs,
Chaac the Rain God decamps from Mayan
rainforests, rides the bloated trade winds,
comes to reign over the Old World.
Days on end the swollen earth has
swallowed till it’s soft as blotting-paper.
The sun is an aspirin dissolving
in a gauze of soaked cotton.
Storm-drains clog, rivers turn reptilian,
shed their alluvial taint in basements,
swell to bursting, silver-plate the floodplains.
Chaac moves over the face of the waters,
looks on desolation wrought by man,
calls up the brother elements.
The drunken wind which last night
stomped through the playground,
drove the park into a frenzy
of soughing boughs, buffeted
the houses, sputtered
down the throats of chimneys,
chased cascades of startled
leaves against the windows, has,
this morning, taken a breather.
The ground is littered with all
the detritus of late Autumn,
as if a carnival has decamped;
and the trees, stripped bare
as parents when grief tears through them,
are suddenly old.
There’s a moment, between drought and downpour,
when the winds hold their breath;
the boughs stop moving; the cloud,
backlit, is photograph-still;
the sea’s meniscus reverent.
A moment in suspense.
An instant, when future imperfect
appears to hang in the balance;
when the dice have yet to fall,
the first fat drops to explode
in the dust-tormented earth.
Weeks on, the scorched stench persists.
Beyond the cowering heather,
the rusted fern and bracken’s
burnt sienna, a blackened heath.
Something else subsists
beneath the ocean sibilance
and gulls’ psychotic squabbles –
the absolute silence of Death.
Bitterness of ash – the whitened cans,
the charred bones of gorse imploring
like something from Purgatorio,
an image out of Aleppo, or
a lesson from our own past –
the whole Head pitch-capped.
David Butler‘s second poetry collection, All the Barbaric Glass, was published by Doire Press in 2017. Doire are to bring out his third collection, Liffey Sequence, next year. His novel City of Dis (New Island) was shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year, 2015.