Big Tim struggled home across the bog*
With daylight gone it was quite the slog
Soft surface sucked boots into pools of deep water
And strong clumps of rushes turned ankles of walkers
Shadows took form and trees came alive
So much activity in the dark of the night!
He took one step forward – lost a shoe to that gesture
As the bog sucked it off and relished the pleasure!
A black – something – darted with speed ‘cross his path
Was that a dog – or a wild feral rat?
Each slow step he took forced his body to shudder
Cold sweat flowed down through his groin in a river
Darkness enclosed him, he could not move a limb
Heard a low voice beside him – was he now hearing things?
A woman grabbed his left hand – she was cold to the bone
“Walk beside me”, she whispered, “I’ll see you get home.”
Sure-footed was she and in her safe presence
Their bodies moved forward, her steps sure and certain
Reaching his homestead, he praised her assistance
And watched as she faded away in the distance
Next morning his brothers asked how he got home
Knowing; that bog was no place to be walking alone
“I would not have made it,” Big Tim confessed
“If not for that lady, I surely was blessed.”
He regaled of the helpful lady he’d met
And without her … he’d be out there and struggling yet.
His brothers were listening going pale as their porridge
Casting eyes round the table of shock and mild horror.
“Mary was a neighbour who loved too much fun
And did not respect the land she’d lived on
Did not heed that soft bogland can swallow a man
If he stepped on wrong surface, he was swallowed and gone!
Mary went dancing and was ne’er seen again
No body was found, not a sign, not a hint.”
The brothers were silent, Tim was uneasy …
Had his life just been saved by the ghost of dead Mary?
* bog – short for bogland. Soft marshy ground, with hard tufts of grass, composed of ancient dead trees compounded from the Ice Age.
Gerardine White - (also called Ger) grew up in wild open country of West Limerick, Ireland. Her country life is represented in her poems and has a strong bearing on her core values and education. She inherited the skill of poetic rhyme from both of her parents and her Grandad. This past year she was published in four Anthologies from Clarendon House Publications. Some of her poems will already have appeared in Ballyguiltenane Rural Journal over time. She had the pleasure of spending an evening with Seamus Heaney in Dublin in 2011. It was later very humbling to read a testimonial of her work: “Your poetry reminds me of Seamus Heaney” (Grant Hudson - Clarendon House Publications) "Poems by Ger have the ability to lift the soul and bring it to a place of peace and calm" (Peg Prendeville, Poet. - The Purple Pencil)