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Jamie O'Halloran: a poem

Listening to Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suite

No. 1 in G Major: First Wave Spring

I. Prelude

First the turning, a funnel of bowing

blowing through a greening field

the horizon stretching octaves

the fingering a slap to the fretless neck

quickening, quickening return

to the entrance with more, more

II. Allemande

Strong pose, the dancer salutes

first position and the arms claim

the full floor the complete stage turn

and post, the arms a basket gathering

witnesses to the lifting held by the bass,

the wood of the body, the woods of unknowing

the woods, the wood the bole of the tree

this searching and the player's breath

III. Courante

Fingers trot like ponies

the race the digging the gallop

determined, this way, this way

O, certainty of wind, the vane

steadies, no trembles

nodding pony

IV. Sarabande

The river empties its mouth into the lake

of my dreams where the swimmer

climbs against the Corrib's body,

just skin for a suit in this cold,

one final loop around the curragh anchored

close to the pier, her cap, white as the waves'

V. Menuets I & II

Old form the greeting

gone for now

just the wave and lovely afternoon,

fine evening isn't it

how to learn the names

of neighbours, and theirs

shifting our walk

in this tight radius

VI. Gigue

Now you're talking tapping

the heel and palm

the nodding of everything

shortest notes frill above

legato taking it higher

in and out and stop

Jamie O’Halloran is an American-Irish poet whose Corona Connemara & Half a Crown was awarded second place in the 2021 Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition. Her poems appear most recently in Southword, Skylight 47 and The Honest Ulsterman. She lives above a river in Connemara with her husband, one cat and two donkeys.


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