The Hurley-maker


Under the green-grey bark of ash

he seeks malleable wood to shape

from curving handle to rounded bas.


He thins the body till it bends

like a bow, springs like a whip,

then planes and sands it smooth


to the hand as a thoroughbred’s pelt.

He’s seen his hurleys hoosh cows

up the lane after milking, knock


hogweed out of a ditch, hoist buckets

from a tank, lift ladybirds to count

their spots. He’s watched young lads


practice roll lifts, dribbles and solos

the way ravens play with the wind.

Years he’s waited for his county


to raise the cup but the day

his hurley beat two men kissing

was the first time he thought to give up.


Jane Clarke

from When the Tree Falls (Bloodaxe Books, 2019)

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