Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Argyle Considers the Elements

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Argyle Considers the Elements

Article excerpt

Argyle surveyed the ominous maw

of tempest assembling off Kilbaha

in the pike's Mouth of the River Shannon,

obscuring the white strand at Ballybunion

and County Kerry's western expanses:

the lay of the land in all directions

blackened with calamity's sure advance.

The sin-eater, given to introspection,

wondered was it something he ate or drank

over the gray corpse of a publican

the night before in Kilballyowen.

Possibly, a sinfulness so grotesque

even his scapegoating could not redress it

and so the heavens would themselves exact

prompt compensation through an Act of God:

whirlwind, maelstrom, lightning and thunderclap,

fissure or freak wave, black frost or flashflood -

he'd seen this balancing of books before.

The bishop of Galway was swallowed whole,

swept off the planet by a cataract

and gobbled up by the sea's upheaval -

something to do with a woman and her boy

against whose innocence he had inveigled. …

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