Up Shanakyle Road to the Vigil Mass
Jeffrey C. Alfier

Up Shanakyle Road to the Vigil Mass

A salt wind from Kilrush Creek
rode my foreigner’s collar, scuttled

the gravel path I took to St. Senan’s.
Just inside, votive candles breathed

their flames for the suffering
of the faithful, my hands held out

to their somnolent warmth. The priest’s
heavy voice echoed liturgy and rite

over pious stone, hallowed glass,
and dismissed us to divine favor.

A blind congregant’s cane tapped
its way home through a streetlight beam.

A woman’s chalk face stared at him
from the solitude of a taxi. I passed

a shop open late. Inside, I asked
for a map of shipwrecks, a guide

to birds ascending this city not my own,
the names of wings opening to a gale.

Jeffrey C. Alfier

is the winner of the 2014 Kithara Book Prize for his poetry collection Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013). He is also the author of The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press) and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books, forthcoming). His recent work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Tulane Review.