Poetry: The Square in Front of the Archangels

Mary Madec is the director of the Villanova Education Abroad Programme in Ireland. You tested your balance on the diagonals hopped on every odd number, criss-crossed your legs into the most restricted spaces, keeping your nerve when you were out of breath, holding out on those fractals of fate as you made your way, tippy-toe onto the smallest square you imagined in the centre. She won the Hennessy XO Prize in 2008 and subsequently published two collections with Salmon Poetry (In Other Words, 2010 and Demeter Does Not Remember, 2014). It started with hopscotch, a stone and squares, a way to pass the time waiting for your mother, you, convinced you could put everything into the neat categories they were once in, meticulously counting with your feet every square on the cobble without trespassing a line, without tripping into the tiny interstitial dykes. This is how you tested those inevitable consequences as dark descended on the quiet waters of the mall, the rooks about to startle from the Angelus bells and become black angels from hell rising victorious from the trees, distorting that square on which you landed into a dark rectangle into which your father fell while Michael, Raphael and Uriel were asleep.