Christine Valters Paintner

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, both 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.

Corcomroe Abbey 

If you pause
you can hear the whispered longings and wailings 
carried across this threshold, the desperate cries  
for healing, the shouts of praise, the stones are keepers 
of these prayers, and to stand there is to feel  
your heart both leap and break all at once.

The roof is gone which means this place 
is no longer shielded from the elements but holds 
its mouth up to catch raindrops on the tongue,
sunlight pours down and fills the space with gold.
The cawing of rooks nesting echo off the walls, 
nettles grow in corners, dandelions in cracks, 
and you see this place is not a ruin, is not empty, 
and you offer up a prayer, not certain who is listening, 
but knowing this prayer does not live alone, but finds a place 
nestled among birds and spirits and growing things.  

Standing at My Mother’s Grave

She is a constellation,
at first only the thick
blackness is visible,

a heavy wool blanket I want
to throw off myself.
if only I could move

but slowly my eyes adjust
and all those points of light
emerge and I see patterns

and I am like a pioneer
making discoveries in the dark:
a bear, an archer, a lover,

and I remember how stars
explode and vanish 
a million miles away

while their light travels
and lingers for lifetimes.

I Dream of My Mother

We drive along the California coast highway
in a shiny red convertible with room
for your wheelchair in back.
You tell me to drive because you want
to take in the view. You hold up a pink pinwheel
you’ve brought and giggle as it twirls round
in summer wind. You point at things —
a pelican, a hot air balloon, a kite
— and I remind you I’m driving so my eyes
stay fixed on the road. I catch a glimpse
of you from the corner of my eye,
your big sunglasses, silk scarf fluttering,
pomegranate lips revealing coffee-stained
teeth. You say something about being
like Thelma and Louise and I remind you
it doesn’t end well for them. I look
in the rearview mirror. My eyes look tired
and I can see the sun setting, the orange
globe of light slowly disappears from view.

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