Poetry by Monica Corish, inspired by the pages of the Observer

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A Hymn to Hands In praise of Leitrim Design House

A Hymn to Hands

In praise of Leitrim Design House

A Rodin exhibition in the Hugh Lane Gallery,

a sign:

Do Not Touch the Sculptures.

I ached, touched, furtive.

No such sign at Leitrim Design.

Lukasz’ woven willow balances on my palm

a crate of cradled air.

Catríona’s silks slide, whispery­light,

beside Niki Collier’s dayglo felt.

A chunk of bog­oak, darkness wrapped in dark.

The sculptor – Daithí O Gallachóir,

I like the nimble strangeness

wrapped inside his name –

has resisted the urge to find

in the rough, buried wood

a sleek, recognisable bird, has trusted

to the gnarled and glorious mess

of nature’s given, like Michelangelo

who saw David in the marble

before he made him visible.

I hug my handbag to my chest for fear of swing and crash:

Ayelet Lalor’s sinuous Divas,

magnificently callipygian.

Edyta’s zany ceramic ladies, their stubby wings,

their floppy, frozen hats.

Even the words entice:

Wheel Thrown Stoneware.

Horsehair Pottery.

Naked Raku.

I hymn the hands of the makers,

named and un­named, then circle,


a hawk closing in

on my lotto­win desire:

Frances Crowe’s tapestry.

Three birds ascend against furrow and hedge.

In the distance

a pale grey silhouette.

In the middle­distance

In woolly close­up, falling

shaggily crisp, a blue­green­teal­red­mauve­magenta­pink

bird of northern paradise.

an arrow­bird in turquoise flight.

out of the edge of the frame, crisply shaggy,