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Image by Guillermo Álvarez


the madrigal, volume v

a topia

by cheryl vail

we fortify coastlines with pulverized monuments
of terrible heroes and superfluous idols
stilt villages and cities above an encroaching sea
use the ruins of our worst intentions

trade sympathy as currency
begin our history             mouth to heart to head
to mouth to heart to head to mouth

string together a novel vocabulary
crocheted from disparate languages whose etymology’s
lost in the continental shelf’s new depths
virgin words     naive idioms      reveal this pupal world

we lived life at a periscope’s distance until we didn’t
antipathy and apathy irradiated like a tumour
bulging from the skin of the earth
leaving empathy to inform our interactions

we can’t prevent vulnerability
mixing in the mortar
between the bricks we build back with
we can’t force balance and poise
treading over rocks where no moss clings

but we sing melodies we know in our marrow
since between primal gasp and silence
throats vibrate a pattern
lament that there could’ve been          so much more
herald that there will be                        so much more


if only through the voices
of our children's grandchildren
as they share our history          mouth to heart to head
to mouth to heart to head to mouth

Cheryl Vail, originally from New Jersey, now calls Dublin home. Her poems have been published in Sonder Magazine, The Waxed Lemon, Drawn to the Light Press, and on Culture Matters website.

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