Thursday 29 November 2018



I have often observed the Spleenwort plant, pictured above, on my I boundary wall. It looked wretched and rustily withering all through summer and autumn. It's only in the last few weeks it has grown fresh fronds. This is a plant that seems to come into its own in the heart of winter.

Spleenwort is apparently so called because it was formerly thought to be useful in curing or easing disorders of the spleen. In November, many people tend to be more splenetic than usual, having had their good weather taken away from them, like candy from a kid, while the nostalgia of Christmas and its culinary comforts have not yet established themselves, despite the flooding of TV screens with Yuletide images.

This week's storm heralded the arrival of the dúluachair (winter weather). Were it not for the promise of Christmas feasts and holidays, Diana would have put anyone off his game (no pun intended). 

But January tends to be more trying than November, in my experience, because of the fact that there's very little to look forward to, for a long stretch, once the celebrations are over and the Christmas tree consigned to the Corporation for mulching.

My poem, 'November Days', was published in Cyphers No 85, which came out in the late spring of this year, so I thought I might give it a more weather-appropriate airing here in my blog, after the first storm of the winter

Hopefully, we will soon be distracted from the dúluachair by the lúcháir (joy) of Christmas. 


Parsley pales. The cat craps in the flower box.
Round the garden table, garden chairs still range,
an icebound working group on climate change.
The car door’s frozen door-handle unlocks

when blessed with water. Christmas rules TV.
Although no visitor’s appeared in weeks,
the feeble latch-grip slips, the front gate creaks
its winter wolf-crying expectancy. 

Our neighbour takes his DIY indoors,
no longer deafens us with power tools.
Spleenwort fronds survive on old stone walls,
each finger-lobe a blister-strip of spores.

© Ciaran O'Driscoll, 2018

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