A Former Ballerina Restores Irish Castles
by John Walser

Under this knuckle scrape sky
the moisture of breath polished rock
my inches away face:
the coolest, closest ground dirt ancestry permeations
onion skin rag rubbed:
two months on just this ceiling alone so far:
rough mortar, patience, point by tuckpoint restored:
this, she says, my second castle, six years in.

Be careful on the stairwell, she says:
wall balance feel yourself up,
arms like scaffolding guiding you:

four months ago an old man with his wife
uneven flights shadow slipped fell
bruised and dazed, dazed and bruised
until they apologized
and I apologized
and they drove off.

I once London child-parent lived, she says:
I once around the world leaped costumed ecstasy:
I once lived for thirteen years
with a man who did not drink enough.
I chose thatching and stone
a wolfhound that hiplevel follows me
even in winter draughts to windowless draughts.

The roof will be finished someday:
for now on the third floor I grow potted herbs
and blackberry summer night skies
and open drops to grove tree farm fields below.

The first from seeing it to letting it go:
over a decade:
this could be more, could be less, she says.
It does not matter to me.

Who can name treasures?
This tapestry bed I sleep in.
These sheep tallow candles I burn.
This mirror leaning again the wall
shows me where I am.
Moon calloused knobbed feet.
Packing and leaving.
The next arrival.
Or just briefly filling a space.
Packingtown Review – Vol.6, Winter 2014/2015

John Walser is an associate professor of English at Marian University. He co-founded the Foot of the Lake Poetry Collective. His poems have appeared in a number of journals, including Barrow Street, Nimrod, Evansville Review, Baltimore Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Naugatuck River Review, Fourth River and Hiram Poetry Review. A semi-finalist for the 2013 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, he is currently working on three manuscripts of poems.

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