Words And Voices

C-a-t cat

My mother said to me

Was all that my grandmother learned at school

Born in 1876

When school was only starting

Did she only go one day?

I can’t remember


But today I see

A lady Kuttiyama

Of Kerala in India learns to read

104 years old she is

Nine months of schooling done

And now her daily joy

To read the daily paper in the sun


I read my books each day

They are my joy

They have been ever since I was a boy

But these years especially

How lonely they would be

Without my books to occupy

And yes to comfort me


In Ireland before the schools came in

The people developed other skills

To fill the evening in

The art of conversation

And story telling ways

Engaged their hearts and minds betimes

That is the Irish craze


Across the years and down the days

I hear them talking still

My uncle Hugh’s voice I can hear

And Sarah singing still

My aunties’ conversations

The table talk at home

And my mammy with her poetry

I’ll never be alone


Brian Fahy

11 December 2021

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