‘The Gate’ by Afric McGlinchey

The gate

They need a context to eke out
their distant echo, undisturbed by cities or freeways,
some place desolate perhaps, where bones
have settled well below earth,
and bats hold on in the favoured dark,

where a fox might bark; a place
to find comfort among moth-coloured shapes
in the unlit gloom,
haunted by the passing
of a stranger at a gate, its brittle

metal rocking on loose hinges,
raven-blue grooves indented and weathered;
or a stray, looking for a shelter to coil into,
away from the cooling air;
nature’s dissolution shared with human debris,

relic of a blue kettle tipped
to one side and growing moss;
above the cracked mantel,
a thorned heart.
The gate stirs, lifts the torpid air

to a condition of unreason,
and at any moment
they might step across,
feel the weight of this rusted gate
on a solid leaning arm.

Evening draws in,
darkness creeping closer,
until the gate is all there is,
and even that a shaky prospect,
disintegrating under seeping ink.

The night glides its wings,
silent as an owl,
only the wind to attend those ghosts,
knowing there is something they need to say.
The air curls round mounds, trees, stones,

like little leaves, to carry sorrows,
secrets, lost dreams.
An unlocked gate shudders,
creates a breach,
invitation to leave.
(first published in Abridged)
A Hennessy Emerging Poetry Award winner (2010), Afric McGlinchey grew up in Ireland and Africa. She was shortlisted in the Bridport poetry competition, nominated for the Pushcart (USA) and highly commended in the Magma, Joy of Sex, North West Words and Dromineer poetry competitions in 2012. She won the Northern Liberties Poetry Prize (USA) in 2013. Her début collection, The lucky star of hidden things, was published in 2012 by Salmon. Afric lives in West Cork, Ireland.