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Image by Birmingham Museums Trust


the madrigal, volume v

A Hard Work Miracle

by daragh byrne

For Subhana Barghazi

The sculptor’s hands are shaped as they shape stone.
Statues are not ripped fully formed from wombs:
Shards penetrate, flesh is splintered, as unknown forms
Are coaxed with promises of eyes
To rest upon them; eyes to make them live
As something in this world. The artist offers, in return
A share of himself back down beneath,
Trading the simple physicality of a deformation,
Or the complex buckling of a broken psyche,
For the capture of a vision: a David or a St Teresa.
Ecstatic in his suffering, a man apart,
Standing, finally, in silent worship
Of miracles well won from simple rock.

I chipped away for many years, shaping myself.
Seeking out the curve of the right thing to do,
The soft arc of a listening ear.
Nicking at the tender hidden outline
Of the kindest word I could say.
Uncovering the firmest way to stand my ground.
I didn’t know any of it was in there.
It’s not so wrong to be satisfied with myself:
Wisdom is a hard work miracle,
Stuck down in dense stuff; waiting for the chisel;
Worth every delicate strike of the hammer.

Daragh Byrne is an Irish poet living on Gadigal land (Sydney). In 2021, he was runner up in the Allingham Poetry Prize, was awarded Highly Commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize and won 1st prize in the Rafferty’s Return Arts Festival poetry competition. He has published in journals, newspapers and anthologies in Ireland and Australia. 

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