The War Ending

© By Medbh McGuckian

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In the still world
between the covers of a book,
silk glides through your name
like a bee sleeping in a flower
or a seal that turns its head to look
at a boy rowing a boat.

The fluttering motion of your hands
down your body presses into my thoughts
as an enormous broken wave,
a rainbow or a painting being torn
within me. I remove the hand
and order it to leave.

Your passion for light
is so exactly placed,
I read them as eyes, mouth, nostrils,
disappearing back into their own mystery
like the war that has gone
into us ending

there you have my head,
a meeting of Irish eyes
with something English:
and now,
it bursts.

© Medbh McGuckian, The War Ending, 1991, complete text, Marconi’s Cottage, 1991, The Gallery Press.

The encounter of opposites is a recurring theme in McGuckian’s world, and how they blend and blur is a constant ambition. It is unsurprising that the poet was at this time imagining a future radically transformed - ‘an enormous broken wave, a rainbow or a painting being torn’ - as the her particular sensibility remains attuned to the unexpected, even (at that time) the unlikely. Medbh McGuckian anticipates the end of the Troubles.

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