A Foot on the Tide – Mary Branley


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This is a very fine first collection by a mature poet who has journeyed through a wealth of experience, both spiritual and personal. Mary Branley is a poet rooted in the West of Ireland and especially in her native Sligo. The poems are about crossing borders – physical as well as political – as in the beautifully contained poem about her grandfather, weak and tortured by both the Tans and the Free Staters and who would rather face a firing squad than the sad eyes of his children. The poems are also abiut the tearing of roots and the subsequent readjusting the the threshold of loss.

 Like bees, we swarmed home,
slipping in back doors quietly,
saying nothing of where we’d been.

And yet finding after all, how little Ireland has changed, still tied to legend and history:

Crossing Tulsk you enter
big sky country
like Siberia on the radio
with far-flung peasants.

Mary Branley’s is a new voice that lets us into clear spaces, missed connections, the gathering and the accepting of the age-old Irish ethos. It is a firsy collection of a very high order.

                                                                                                                 Leland Bardwell


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