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Family Tree (Runner Up)

Kieran Beville

When they buried my mother’s mother
it rained as we stood near the open grave.
I was afraid I might fall in
and that my name would appear
beneath the white marble cross
of the family plot
near the cathedral door.
They lowered her into the dark unknown
and it seemed to me that they were wrong
about this being the way to enter heaven.
Shovelled earth pounded, like my heart,
on the polished pine
and gilded crucifix
keeping rhythm with the sean-nós sobs
of my shadowy aunts,
which I still see in silhouette,
like winter trees
against a solemn sky.
And I wondered if she would grow
into a wrinkled tree –
with branches like her bony arms
making music with the wind
as she did when she played the melodeon –
with silver leaves like her hair,
where birds might rest or nest
and sing the familiar melodies.
Yes, she was a tree
and shed seeds
that made a forest of herself –
Roots spreading deep and wide
gripping the sacred soil
now cradling the bones of her children.

Kieran Beville is author of Write Now – A Guide to Becoming a Writer (Limerick Writers' Centre, 2019), Fool’s Gold (Revival Press, 2019), Pulling Back the Clouds, a biography of Mike Kelly (Limerick Writers' Centre, 2020). Soul Songs (Revival Press, 2020). He has had many articles and poems published.

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