Posted tagged ‘hunger’


January 1, 2013

I watched
her little fingers
twist and loop the thread,
push the needle
into fine lace.
This one a handkerchief,
this a piece for the table,
hunger pricked.

The size is the price.
Lay the coins end to end
along the daisy chain.

I wrote this poem when I was researching lace making. Lace was made by women and children at the time of the Irish Famine. The price of the lace was arrived at by covering the piece with coins. Most of the money went to middlemen.
From A Sense of Place



March 10, 2012

The cold grey sea
Stirs sinuous weed,
Bladder wrack, dulse,
Kelp, carrageen.
Dancing shrouds
Ripple and weave
On the winnowing tide.

Grey water slips
Into gulleys.
Around black rocks
Swash and backwash
Channel and flow,
Shift drifting sand
Over stripped bones.

“O tiny child
What did you see
With your grey green eyes?
What did you see
In that far away time
In the green, green field
Where the hungry grass grows?

Where are the weak?
Do they lie under stones
In the field of death
Or by the roadside?
Nothing but bones.
You alone were
Picked to survive.”

This poem evolved during my research into family history in the late 1840s at the time of the Irish famine. The research raised questions concerning the choices faced by families. How was food shared within the family?

Hunger Moon

June 16, 2010

Like marble,
A cold, empty plate,
The late winter moon
Jagged pieces gleam
Through stark branches
Over a lean, hungry world.

A thin wind turns,
Through withered, bony fingers
Of dark, skeletal trees.
Ancient voices whisper
Murmur, plead.