BURREN VULTURE

 

Captive at the raptor centre,

far from the dakhma,

you hop among spectators –

plucked neck undulating towards

your prehistoric head.

 

The crowd gasps at your wingspan,

as you wheel among their infants –

heedless of their softness,

their downy fontanelles.

 

Far from the dakhma,

do the stacked bones of Poulnabrone

stir ancestral echoes

of sun-scorched carrion,

clean-picked skulls?

 

Captive at the raptor centre,

your bone-splintering bill

is a thrill for the punters;

back home the skies are empty,

and wild dogs are on the rise.

 

 

 

 

TROGLODYTES

On visiting Lascaux cave for the 70th anniversary of its discovery

 

Inland, the road torcs into forest.

Among walnut trees, the house vibrates

with life: bees, hummingbird moths,

an infestation of squat black crickets.

They love the shade of cool clay tiles,

watch as we sleep, eat, bathe, make love.

We sweep them out at night; they won’t jump –

just scuttle, and keep returning.

 

Deep in the lamplit chamber, shadows

in the knotted scaffolding, they watched

hands palpate the limestone for flanks, spines,

manes – and draw them into life.

 

And when the lamps guttered, they scurried

over aurochs, bison, the inverted horse,

till a dog arrived, with boys and lights,

and they were brushed aside:

not far, but out of sight,

waiting for night to fall.

 

 

 

Amanda Bell works as a freelance editor and writer, and is a doctoral candidate in UCD. Her poetry has been published in print and online journals, and in 2014 was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Competition.