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This poem is taken from PN Review 227, Volume 42 Number 3, January - February 2016.

‘Largesse’ and other poems Thomas McCarthy
Largesse

I’ve been thinking of my mother’s life, the sheer audacity
Of her kindness, of her unbridled largesse. She who had
Nothing or little to give gave more than the shirt off her back,
Gave the skin of her hands to break wet firewood in a hard frost
During the long winter of 1962/63. The long winter settled
Across her shoulders as an oxen-yoke of pain. The hard facts
Of Irish life distilled what was left of my mother’s lost poetry;
Blackbirds pitied her in her Council terrace, came for crumbs
That would give them stomach pains of frost. The proud
Of soul were betrothed to her alone, an old soldier
Escaped from the Lismore Union, Johnny Dubliner down
On his luck in a ditch between Dromana Wood and Cappoquin,
Pitiable Seventh Day Adventists who stayed for tea and
Offered her watchwords of literacy. The sky of Ireland,
That bitter grey unforgiving Dungarvan sky, that bitter
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