My mother’s first cousin,
he was a farmer.
We visited when I was a child,
I have a vague memory of cows.
Grandad was a creamery manager.
We played in the creamery yard,
climbed inside a big silvery tank,
probably sterile, waiting for milk.
Granny fed us fat milk, eggs
fresh from the hen, butter with everything.
I broke out in hives, a city child
accustomed to margarine and pavements.
By the time my mother could afford
the luxury of butter
I’d outgrown the hives,
Buíochas le Dia.
My aunt, she almost married a farmer
but backed away at the thought
of hardy men in wellingtons
traipsing through her kitchen.
My mother would have gloried in the life.
She joined the ICA, loved to recount
what her doctor said: You have the bones,
Mrs Corish, of a strong farmer’s wife.
Much good it did her.
She’s gone now, along with the man
my aunt didn’t marry and the three farms
my great-grandfather drank. All I know
is farms and farmers lost,
and a whispery memory:
the hot breath of cows, churns full to the brim
with creamy milk, the taste of gold on my tongue.