Your father stoops to pick up a stone
Gently, he lays it, a nice fit,
in a small crevasse in an old wall.
The larger stones were cleared by your father,
your father's father, and before himóhis father
to make a space for meager crops,
keep the scrawny cattle in
and claim a tiny bit of earth as their own.
No one lives here now,
but some, like your father, still come
to protect, preserve and revereó
keeping something alive that sprouted and grew
along with root crops and tall grassó
The land will someday belong to you,
and your father speaks reverently of hard history and rich legacyó
sacrifice and celebrationó
and the worthiness of constancy.
You cannot quite make out the great ocean from here
or the town of Dingle on the inlet, where tourists wanderó
streets cluttered with brightly painted cottages and happy old pubs.
Your father has a law office there,
upstairs over O'Connor's,
where he downs a pint or two on Friday nights,
and sometimes can be heard to speak "The Irish."
There are others too, who know the stories and the songsó
adventurous sea stories and hardscrabble land storiesó
stories of Druids before Time itself,
and of Father Hannigan
who gave up the cloth for a sailor's widow.
One day, when you are more able to put things into perspective,
your father will tell you of Sean, your uncle
who disobeyed his father and went to make his fortune
rowing a dory out of Dingle Inlet to cast nets for Haddock.
He was a farmer's sonóno match for the treacheries of deep green water.
For a long time, it was said, he could be heard to make his apologies,
especially when the wind blew from the west.
This is the birthplace of stones;
stone houses, barns, churches,
walls of every length and height
reflecting the toil and ingenuity of human history.
From the time creatures crawled in from the sea
seeking shelter in a waterless world,
or, later, when "civilization" evolved
and other creatures came in from Viking ships,
stones have prevailed.
The words are carefully chosen.
The stone is carefully placed.
Your history and your heritage
Here among the old stones.