Images

For the dverse prompt—heredity.

 

Looking from mirror to you,

leafing through photo albums

looking from you to them

and the way the dead laughed,

I wonder at all those ancients,

whose faces left no image,

with their wild hair and their gold torcs,

who gazed in awe at the standing stones of Inishowen

and how I would have known them in a thousand,

from the way they laughed,

lop-sided and silent.

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Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

53 thoughts on “Images”

  1. Damn, woman. You’re SO good.
    I love your birds and foxes, I love your trees and skies…but this, this is sth that really resonates with me.
    P.S. Free verse suits you perfectly. I find it liberating. To quote great Robert Frost – it’s like playing tennis without a net.

    1. Thank you! Free verse is a lot easier to write than formal verse in the sense that it’s harder to say what you want in verse that has to stick to a rhyme and a rhythm. That’s why I write it. Discipline 🙂

  2. There’s a lot to be said for keeping photos in albums; they’re like old-fashioned bibles, revered and sacred. My nan had a huge bible with family photos in – my mum threw it away because she found silverfish in it.
    There’s also an eerie feel to the lines
    ‘leafing through photo albums
    looking from you to them
    and the way the dead laughed’
    and I love the way you go further back in time in the lines:
    ‘I wonder at all those ancients,
    whose faces left no image

    and how I would have known them in a thousand,
    from the way they laughed,
    lop-sided and silent’.A fab ending, Jane!

    1. Thanks Kim. It’s something that I often wonder about—given how we set so much store by the physical—how do we ‘know’ all those ancestors who have left no images of themselves? I would love to know what Niall of the Nine Hostages looked like and if he had the same crooked smile as my son and my dad.

    1. There is only one of my ancestors who looks stern in photos—my great-grandma Cahalin. She not only didn’t smile in photos, she was a stern, traditionalist who gave her daughter, my grandma a hard time. All the others seem to be always having a high old time 🙂

  3. We all seem to be latching onto the laugh–one of our better traits. It’s certainly one thing that I remember vividly about my mother. And I do wonder what trail led it to her, as her parents were quite sober. (K)

      1. It may be. Life was not easy for my mother’s family. Their way of coping was to be religious in the Protestant sin-and-deprivation mode.

      2. I find that such a sad aspect of religion, that is takes all the pleasure out of life. Just so we can have fun when we’re dead—fun as in singing hymns day in day out.

      3. Since Catholic doctrine is a bit hazy on whether hell exists at all, I think I’m going to opt to stay in that eternal waiting room of Purgatory until God invents a better place to go.

  4. Nicely done Jane. The laugh is a very identifying feature in a family. I love the idea of being able to identify your ancestors by their lop-sided and silent laugh!
    Dwight

  5. Nice. They went to sleep, of course, by their fathers, and will awake in due time. We remember Jesus saying, the first shall be the last, and the last shall be the first. And there will be laughing, – and when finally St. Paul is reborn, he will laugh loudest of all, in pure joy of what have become!
    💛

      1. It is a long way to Tipperary, which is not far from Limerick, I now see. Inishowen, though, is on the edge of escaping. I made a lovely video, once, or rather a slide show, with photographs, to the song “The Voice” sung by Celtic Woman. I did not dare to keep it on YouTube. The material was all borrowed, without stated permission. Maybe now I should post it again.

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