Drummin Road, County Mayo

Here, at the top of a ridge
to which the road clings,
is the edge of the edge of the world.

The light meets the darkness in this very place.
The sun, splitting from the black of the valley
glints then ceases along the row of roadside posts.

Sheet of light meets sheet of darkness.

I had set out in search of the hermit
who lives in hills not far
from the road I have told-
a person becoming a prayer-
halfway on the map, as the crow might fly,
between the holy mountain, Croagh Patrick,
and the peak they call Devilsmother.

The words of the silent one
had summoned me.
I went to her small chapel by a stream
and sat in the thick, pure silence.

I did not see her but I know I was seen,
the silence having stirred,
alert to intrusions, then settled,
absorbing a quester.
I came away at last, lingeringly,
farewelled by a goose, a goat,
and that straight-flying crow
atop a hawthorn bush.
The silence had given,
but I had hoped to see the face
of the one who spent her days
in that undiluted air.
I left her a poem;
I left her my name.

Three days later in mid-summer Leenaune
where all roads of water and earth converge,
I met her, the hermit, amidst the crowd.
She looked at me with eyes that were mine.

Thank you for the poem, she said.
Even hermits need the occasional word.
She left me then, at the crossroads,
on one of her rare trips for supplies,
as I swam back into the silence she had given me.