Órfhlaith Foyle

Death at Doo Lough Valley


It is wild in Killadoon.
The waves roar at you.
‘You have to do something,’
Eugene the horse man told us.
‘You have to get out and do something here.
You can’t just be sitting in, no matter the weather.’
A man stood in a small field, watching his cows feed.
His elbows rested on the stone wall.
His blue tractor sang Dolly Parton.
A bird hung upside down on the wire fence.
One claw still hooked and bloody.
We undid its tiny ankle then laid it down
for a comfortable death.
Snipes slid in the local marsh. Sheep abandoned their wool
in grass verges. A man with a car and a dog at a tiny cross
roads above the shore.
Country music skidded into the air.
The dog licked my shins, my shoes my fingers.
‘He smells your own,’ the man said.
He ran his gaze over us. We were wind-sozzled, red and happy.
‘On holidays, are you?’ he said.


Later that evening a man from East London holds court
in the hotel bar. He reminds everyone that he used to be
from around here.
He still knows everyone, he says.
He winks at the girl serving drinks.
Her sister married someone he knows.
His voice picks out memories to tell.
He ran there. He hunted there.
He’ll never come back.
We were cut off from the world.
Didn’t look at TV or listen to the radio.
Read Rilke and walked five miles in the evening.
Travelling back we met a French man in a red car
in the hollowed gulp of Doo Lough valley .
‘What’s wrong?’ we ask.
‘Nothing,’ he says. He waves a hand outside his window.
‘Just looking at the moutains and the pretty ladies.’


Later we laugh at his strange grey curling hair.
His red car and his distrustworthy face,
But he had been quite normal, and in the end
he was followed by string of French cyclists
then a large truck whose driver hooted loud
into the lough where people had died
long ago with grass in their mouths,
since visiting English gentlemen had
decided not to feed them, but monitored
instead how the bodies still gathered
green spit then drifted into the black water,
and sank under the lips of waves.















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