They made their way through
storm-washed grasses, their reeking
wounds, sores from the salted sea,
to be blessed by the holy relief
in the soft touch of rain.
The corbelled stones, dug out
of the earth to stand as a beacon
for the foreigners starved for silence,
shaped like the boat that brought them,
is no longer cell nor church,
but strength in solitude.
Like these foreigners, I stand inside,
lay my hands on the smooth stone,
and capture the smallest source of light
as it breaks through the oratory window.
Footnote: The Gallarus Oratory (Séipéilín Ghallarais) is often translated as “The Church [or Shelter] of the Place of the Foreigners”. Shaped like an upturned boat, many believe it was an early Christian church while others have argued that it was merely a shelter for pilgrims making their way from Ventry Harbour to the summit of Mount Brandon. The simple dry-stone structure in Co. Kerry, Ireland has remained waterproof and in near-perfect condition.
Chris Brauer lives in British Columbia, Canada where he splits his time between writing and teaching. He has written a travel memoir about living in the Sultanate of Oman, and is currently writing about Ireland – both in prose and poetry. Read more at www.chrisbrauerwriter.com or at www.facebook.com/chrisbrauerwriter.