10:3: “Year of Miracles”, by Liz Bourke

10:3: “Year of Miracles”, by Liz Bourke
  The year I began
  to believe in miracles
  snow fell in summer
  stung hail from roofs
  to lie uneven
  on the pebbles

and from the gorse-laden hill
(I saw) angels upon a ladder
going up and down into heaven.

The year I began
to believe in miracles
midwinter sun melted
ice, and wind sliced
the mirror-sheeted
royal canal

and from the white-stained station
(I saw) the midnight train
fleeting down the track to hell.

The breath of ghosts and the mists
of Odin’s eye, Hades’ shades
and the pomegranate-taste that twists
the tongue: all these I remember,
and the dead languages of Virgil’s voice,
poets’ choices cleaving the unfinished ages
to ring in my ear, and sing of
Norse Decembers, or the rage of Rome.

All these I remember,
and the bright gleam
of spring in your eyes
the seam of a new age
splitting the old year open,
smiling to the sight.

Only let me not forget
the death of one year more;
the tears of Persephone
and all that came before.


Liz Bourke was born in Dublin, Ireland, where she still resides. She is presently reading for a postgraduate degree in Classics at Trinity College Dublin.

She says:

I started writing this poem in December 2010. It’s dark in December at these latitudes, and at that time, Dublin was freezing its bloody cobbles off under a layer of snow. (We almost never get snow in Dublin, much less weather so cold that the snow sticks for whole weeks at a time.) One evening, as I was riding the train home from college, I noticed that the Royal Canal had frozen over. Everything – the poem entire – proceeded from that image of midwinter sun reflecting from the ice, and the contrast between that and my memory of one childhood June, when hailstones hammered me on my way home from school and landed like snow on warm gravel.

The mythological references just… fit. Past, present, future; life and death, cold and warmth; all turning on the cusp of the year. I don’t understand poems. I just write ‘em.



One Response to “10:3: “Year of Miracles”, by Liz Bourke”

  1. Joel Eis says:

    I like your poem very much. My wife and I own a bookstore just north of San Francisco, California. If you are here when we are having a public reading you may read your work in our store!

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