Lass of Donegal

for my great-grandmother

Aloysia Donahue, if I followed the tune to your
window, I imagine you’d welcome me inside–
meeting in the space a century divides.
But before stepping through your rounded wooden
door, I’d breath in the braided heather
of your thatched roof, the
boggy breezes of your moor.

I’d run my hands along the whitewashed
walls of your cottage–dense turf and
clay–and then center myself beside
the heated stone of your hearth–
the gathering place
for warm stories and Irish
trads played on tin whistles.

Rosy-cheeked with bun askew from
days of shearing and hauling, you’d hand me
a piping cup of malty assam
tea. We’d sip between nibbles of
curds and chocolate potato cakes
and smile about the things blood-kin
know without the need for speaking.

Peeling off the wool comfort of our
overdue reunion, I’d then tap my toe to verses
of Mourne Mountain on the mandolin. I’d
hum along to rhymes of West Cork’s
Fuchsia blooms and the Cotton
flowers of the boglands. And just
when we’d danced atop the plateau

of County Clare and fiddled our way
through the Maidenhair ferns,
you’d say it’s once again time to rest.
To close the wooden door until another
ballad tumbles out the window
onto the green below–
welcoming me back home.

Jen coaches clients in writing and sobriety over at