Christine Valters Paintner is an American poet living in Galway, Ireland and the author of twelve books of nonfiction and two collections of poems: Dreaming of Stones (2019) and The Wisdom of Wild Grace, forthcoming in fall 2020 from Paraclete Press. Her poems have appeared in several journals in North America, UK, and Ireland including Tales from the Forest, Crannog, Stinging Fly, The Blue Nib, Headstuff, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, impspired, Bangor Journal, Tiferet, Spiritus, Presence, and Anchor. You can find more of her writing and poetry at AbbeyoftheArts.com.
Wittgenstein in Connemara
I turn north off the N59 bog on one side, Lough Fee on the other, turn right at Lough Muck, over the hill, along the peninsula, to the end of the road at Rosroe Pier, mouth of Killary Fjord, edge of the known world, all gorse and heather and sea, Mweelrae sleeps across the way. He certainly didn’t belong there, Austrian philosopher turned Cambridge professor, a hermit seeking dark quiet around himself for thoughts to ripen, what must the locals have made of him? His slim figure, austere, mannered, bird-tamer, holding out his hands full of bread-crumbs and seed, smiling as sparrows land on tiny feet, letting the blackbird teach him about patience, perhaps seeking the God for whom he had no words. Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is, he once said. At night I stand under an ample sky and can’t help but agree, I dream he is there with me, I fix him tea and say I don’t understand his writing, he laughs gently, asks for sugar, we sit together in the long quiet broken only by the soft voice of flames in the wood stove and the rain that has started thrumming the window.
“I prowl the woods and streams / And linger watching things themselves” —Han-Shan Have you ever fallen in love with a mountain, spent hours memorizing her lines and gashes, swooned over a scree-covered slope, uplifted by its rise into sky saying I am here, no apologies, followed its trails, scooping clusters of wildflowers along the way, seen how it ascends from earth like a great heron with wide wings, like your own, most fervent prayer?
Sometimes I awaken at night although still in a dream, air around me is violet. Here in the heart of the forest I am elegance of swan, fierceness of bear, sweetness of squirrel, I am all these things under night’s generous embrace, how the moon, a broken dinner plate has the courage to soar how my prayers for the world grow more intense and I wonder what of this grace will still be left by morning?
Poetry on Four Paws
(or Arf Poetica) Eyes alert, nose up, you catch the scent, a thread that leads you across fields you might never have crossed. Simple rhythms suffice: sleep, eat, walk, listen, smell, present to each moment’s need. Running through snow, you, black on white, words tumble onto the page.