That summer in the west I walked sunrise
to dusk, narrow twisted highways without shoulders,
low stone walls on both sides. Hedgerows
of fuchsia hemmed me in, the tropical plant
now wild, centuries after nobles imported it
for their gardens. And I was unafraid,
did not cross to the outsides of curves, did not
look behind me for what might be coming.
For weeks in counties Kerry and Cork, I walked
through the red blooms the Irish call
the Tears of God, blazing from the brush
like lanterns. Who would have thought
a warm current touching the shore
of that stone-cold country could make
lemon trees, bananas, and palms not just take,
but thrive? Wild as the jungles they came from,
where boas flexed around their trunks—
like my other close brushes with miracles,
the men who love you back, how they come
to you, gorgeous and invasive, improbable,
hemming you in. And you walk that road
blazing, some days not even afraid to die.

–Katrina Vandenberg

I know what that is like, walking for weeks in “counties Kerry and Cork” amid the fuchsias and hedgerows. It is a most unexpected microclimate to encounter in that “stone-cold country”, where palm trees grow in Kerry and dolphins swim in the Dingle harbor. Like the many faces of Ireland—a country where the concept of “close brushes with miracles” makes more sense than it does anywhere else–this poem walks me up and then down, in and then out.

Vandenberg is another Lisa the Poet find. Thank you once again LP. I’m running down the road trying to keep the dust trail from your all terrain vehicle of a mind in my sights.