Before dawn, mother liked stream-fresh
Water, not bucket-sitting for stirabout or
Tea. “Needs to be fresh, Willow,” she said
Eye-rubbing, sleepy in my bed. Shoes sans
Socks, lantern light, chilly wind beneath
Nightgown flowing, first dips of running,
Clear water, sips for myself, starlit skies
Overhead, guiding steps in black night,
Papa’s fishing constellations.
“Might get turned around at night,” papa
Said, “but never lost.” In my small way,
I understood, bucket in hand, hill-winding
Paths, every stone known, except for field-
Moving mists, my footsteps hidden, outer-
Isle wonders, cottage-window candlelight,
Dancing shadows, birds awakening, sheep
Stirring, aroma of oats overnight cooking,
Mother busy, fishermen boat-gathering.
Mother added bits to coal-simmering porridge,
Ground nuts, fried bread crumbs, honey,
Brown sugar sprinkles, of which we had one
Cup, dried fruit, and for lunch, shredded
Meat stirred in, spoon ringing on pottery
Bowls, tea, coffee, spring water, or as papa
Enjoyed, but seldom had, fresh butter milk.
Memories of bare-foot island girl, night
Water-fetching, stirabout and starlight.
Generation-to-generation, across Atlantic Canada,
many variations exist for breakfast Irish stirabout.
Thanks for reading.