Saturday, August 17, 2013


                      Beidh ceol, caint agus craicagainn 
                          —for Tom Sharp

My grandmother was always after
telling me stories about the coelacanth.
Irish words, she said, the singing fish
as she parsed it with her Gaelic dictionary,
with its cover and frontice pages missing.
Burned in the kitchen fire, she said.
What she saved—was not the kitchen,
but the book. It was a key to her lost world.
She told me the old fishermen stories
of prehistoric singing fish caught
in deep water nets off Béal Feirste.
No matter that coel means hollow
and akanthos means spine.
It was all Greek to her.
Yet her translations were more accurate:
the fish did sing of lost worlds, other eras.
She was always after telling me stories like that—
transliterating an older music into my mind.
All that ceol & craic, I had no idea
I was growing up, lost in the music
between tongues.

Published in Bay Area Generations 15, Nov. 24, 2014

Beidh ceol, caint agus craicagainn "We'll have music, chat and craic."
This is the article (and my grandmother's "transliteration" of ceolacanth) that spawned the poem. Note the date: 1975.

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