Into The Changing Light

I am here

Sitting in the window

Between dusks and dawns

In a changing time

On the seasons turn

In a place I once called home


There is a particular warmth in the light

that is reflected in the glass

And refracted in



broken beams

Along the stretched wooden floor of my days


I could sit in contemplation of this light for years,

Of the gathering of endings and beginnings

that are illuminated in its cast

I could sit in my bay window sanctuary

In this limbo between hours

Between days

Between countries

Between states of being

Between the light itself

And the simple tender presence of darkness

That exists at the edges of its sphere.


Somehow, it is easy to accept the embrace of night

Knowing the bright will fade and return

As we ribbon our way around the sun

It is easy to forget

That for some

The deep winter will come

And spring will not return


I realise I could sit and lose myself to this limbo-light

In its quiet majesty

Yet when I wake from my reverie

And turn to share the magnificence of what I see

There are those who stand beside me who may be gone


And so, as twilight comes

With open arms

This time I stand

Dust motes floating

Wide wooden boards softly sounding with my tread

Barefoot and steady along their length


I cannot see beyond the evening shadows

Gathering in pools at the edges of my sight

I know not where I am going

Beyond the bright bay window

That frames the beckoning night

I know not what I am giving

Beyond my heartbeat steady

And the simple sense

that this feels right


But somehow I know it is enough

And each step a prayer

In the gathering, violet-hued dusk

And so I breathe, and step and trust

On this last long mile beside you

As you move, like we will all move


Into the changing light

Into the changing light

M. McCarthy April/ Dec 2015

A poem about the limbo of living with death… Written in the final months of my mother’s life, in the Australian Autumn —where I had returned to be with her—and completed later, in the heart of Irish Winter—on this wild west coast that I have come home to. Still I am here, but not here, and this piece feels as relevant today.  Somehow the sense of limbo remains, and the call to arms, to life, to action is still sounding, albeit quietly.



I hear the ticking clock
Quiet in my pocket
And I am leaving
I am leaving

With my mother’s shawl about my waist
And her urn filled up with socks of many colours

I have a lantern in my hands
And some boots to walk the land
And I am walking
I am walking

Deep into the trees
A virgin forest
No man’s stepped within for centuries

I have a map and a song of change
And a bell that’s quietly ringing

I have the key to a pirate’s heart
And a weathervane that’s singing

I have a box with a precious stone from every country I have known

And I am walking
And letting them tumble beneath my feet each step I go.

There is a soldier down below
For whom I wish I could stop the war
Which he keeps waging

There are people that I know
And as I walk towards the moon
Their faces fade

And I am sad to see them go
After a woven spell of roads
But they are leaving
Yes they are leaving

Now it is time to catch the train
And the wild goose aeroplane
And return unto the North
Where I was made

I bring my mother’s ashes
And a basketful of grace
For to stand within the stones
And let the wind caress my face

And let the Autumn sing to me
Of the West Coast getting wintery
And I will remember to take it gracefully
As it welcomes me home
For I am coming

As all returns to dust
And the fragments that were us
Become the wind

I hear it sing
And I am coming,
Yes I am coming

M.McCarthy  September 2015

Let Me Be Wise

Let me be wise

With longing and loving

Shake the ghost gods of old

And the snake-skins of love from my bed


Let me be wise with longing and loving

That the three silver strands

At my tawny brow

Are let into my next embrace and not forgotten


Let me be wise

For it is my time

After 20 years of blind man’s luck

And falling for souls


Let me be wise

For it is my time

Even in the depths of men’s eyes

Oh let me be

Let me be wise


                                                                                    M.McCarthy, May 2014

IMG_6893 IMG_6895
All images – c. MMc 2013/ 2014

Oil Slick, Black Lit

I see the shining stripes

Of oil slick, black lit street lamps

Shimmering in the quiet dark inkpot soup of the bay


A midnight walk on the sleeping green

Past house after house adrift in dreams,

Night anchors down

And cast in pools of shadow…


See the dry boats,

Pier-bound, bright-awake

Holding court in the sodium glare

Far above the tide


Each one yearning to be held

By the deep liquid flow below them

Hull-sunk, quay-hugging,

And nestled into the darkness beneath their bows


I see them rippling in jagged reflection

Shards of colour

Like broken mirrors

Dancing in fluid bobbing splinters upon my doorstep


She’s black the tide tonight

A deep and narrow stretch of darker tar

In the vast paint pot of Galway bay


And as I watch

And contemplate the many names of nero

A pinpoint of light

And then three and more strike

And a sudden star-cloth on the rich black water twinkles,


Cast like a net from a night trawler,

Passing just as the clouds cleared.

                                                                                          M.McCarthy, April 2014


A winter shot of  Kinvara bay in the wee hours, taken from the ‘sleeping green.’ MMc 2014

I Have Come from the Circle

I have come from the circle,

Keeping my little candle

Burning in the night


I stand at the cliff-edge

Ocean crashing

Against the rocks below


It is here, high in the starlit sky

That I know my dreams

Each one shining in the night

A tiny beacon

Burning into the unknown


Here I contemplate my simmering desires

And I know I hold the fiercest in my hands


It burns hot and sweet

Between my fingers in the dark

Searing skin and flesh and bone


It is my heart

Guiding me through my oblivion

           Mallika McCarthy 2003



Images – c. MMc 2013

Another one from the archives. Most of these have never seen the light of day. It feels good to be sharing new work, and also to air some golden oldies. This piece was written after taking part in an amazing weekend of women’s work called the Gift. It stands as one of the truest places of meeting I have ever experienced xxx MMc

Strange Loss

I cut you from my branches

With the sharpest knife

I hacked you from my hiding place

In the tree above the summer house

And threw you to the ground

Though you were still unripe


In truth I did want you

And with such tender care

I nurtured your roots

And your shoots growing fair

With water from the holy well

Carried in my hair


In truth I did want you

I hungered for you, needed you

So I planted you

And seeded you

Beside the summer house

And in my hiding place you grew


Then in the Autumn we picked berries

In an offhanded way

Wandering the lanes

With nothing to say

I picked fruit at your feet

That I hoped I could keep

And eat in the Spring


In memory of this



half-realised thing


But in the cold heart of Winter

I realised my folly

Confronted by Death

I visited the Fool

And the wisdom he offered

was “Stick to the rules…

That fruit is not yours

That you hide in your glen

So lose it you must

To begin life again”


So I climbed to my place

In the tree above the summer house

And I found where you grew

Around the very heart of me


Then I visited the kitchen

Of the husband and wife

And I cut you from my branches

With the sharpest knife

Mallika McCarthy, January 2006    


(one from the archives… MMc April 2014) 🙂


photo by M.McCarthy 2011 – Autumn at Oughtmama  – The Burren, Co Clare, Ireland ❤




By the fire in the dark light

I cuddle mice

and dream of new worlds


By the candles in my heart

I reach inwards

to re-write

the codes of history


Burning broken memories

in hurried


of crumpled paper


Lines of old poetry


in the

molten turf-pot


Stove light flickering

on my dog’s


black and white coat


And here I am

I am home

Curled into my midnight couch


Brand new-nesses

unfurling in me

like baby wings

still gossamer thin


But opening


To unknown possibility

                                                                                        Mallika McCarthy, April 2014



*The First Fire*

In the beginning it was dark

Until a falling star fell and lit a spark

And that spark tumbled through a passing breath of air,

And burned brighter and hotter as it fell…

And then it landed with a bump.

On an unsuspecting rock

By an unsuspecting tree

Who, unexpectedly, had shed its first crispy leaves into the rock’s cold arms.


And when the spark landed all out of breath and dizzy and warm,

The leaves rose to meet its hot and tingling charms,

And with a breath they were alight for all to see.

The rock grew hot and wild with the fire

And the tree reached down to taste its desire

And there on the windswept plains of La Mancha

The first fire of love was born…

Between the tree and the rock and the first star of morn.


Mallika McCarthy, Nov 2005

My Beautiful Men

Tears are a-falling

Its 5 in the morning


It’s time

To let another one go


The men I love are all leaving

Tender heart’s grieving

For their presence

Then absence

As another lamp blows


Now the fading Hunter’s Moon

Sings quiet at my window

Like the trees shedding leaves

And tears falling slow


Though my wild heart cries

“I’ll eat you up

I love you so”

I see the light in your eyes

And I know its time

To let you go

Mallika McCarthy, Oct 2013

Autumn Rising

Autumn is rising

The crisp October cool

Gently biting fingers

And cutting through

The still and whispering night


Lemon moon hanging like a scented half-globe

Above the sleeping village

And here, the Big Dipper

Strung low

Like decorative lights

Across the bright, deep indigo


The quiet water carries boats in twos

For every hull a double,

Bobbing silently below

The castle shining small and luminous

Glows at me across the narrow bay


And now a plane

Sweeping slowly through the star-strewn sky

Blinking steady red and green

Gradually rising away from Shannon

And with it my heart flies free

Into the West…

Into the West…

And my newly awoken American dream

Mallika McCarthy, Oct 2013


Kinvara Bay – Winter Moon c. MMc 2013