AUDIO READING FROM THE COLLECTION: EXILE
Selected poems offers a generous selection of Donaldson’s work to date. It is an ideal place for the reader to engage with the themes of her work: the natural world, human sexuality, and the often unexpected ways in which people’s live interlink. Drawing inspiration from historical figures, friends and chance acquaintances alike, Moyra Donaldson looks at the world with a fresh unflinching eye. A remarkable achievement from a poet at the height of her powers.
What ground is mine
if I would govern myself?
Where is my country
if neither bogs nor gantries
speak of me?
Where can I stand
if I am not one thing
or the other?
My grandfather knew where he stood.
Ancestors planted his feet
in fertile soil, green futures were
named in his name, possessed.
He preached their flinty faith
in mission tents, visions of eternal life
on soft Ulster evenings,
but there was no redemption.
Not in the land. Or through the Blood.
Not in the hard lessons of duty, obedience,
with which he marked his children.
He is stripped of virtue,
his legacy a stone
of no magic, no transcendence.
No children ever turn to swans,
wafer remains wafer on the tongue,
and flesh is always flesh.
My two white birds will bring me
water from the mountains,
beakfuls of sweet sips.
I will grow a new tongue,
paint my body with circles
and symbols of strength, mark myself
as one who belongs in the desert.