Ignis Aurum Probat*Julie-ann Rowell

i.m. Maggie Clarke, after Seamus Heaney

Who is this, approaching across the yard,
carrying a wicker basket under her arm
with mixed corn for the geese.

I recognise the way she holds herself
with her open expression and her hair loose –
it’s that grey of the end of day, and sleek.

She turns herself over to dusk, distant
thunder pulsing, but there will be no
storm in this yard where the white bodies

of geese waddle to her sustaining call.
Later, she will lock them away from
the fox lying in wait with red intent.

I will follow her patterning: the small hours
culled by her lamp in the window. She will
always be there beyond the glass of the farmhouse

where she’s lived for years, with the pebbled
yard, the cob, the muck, the pond where the geese
fold to drink, the quiet strength of trees.

Julie-ann Rowell

* ‘Fire tests gold’ Seneca