Inside each of these old fenceposts
fashioned from weathered boughs and 
               salt-bleached branches
(knotholes, wormy ridges, shreds of bark still visible)
something pulses with a life that lies outside our language:
for all their varicose veins and dried grain lines,
these old-timers know how to stand up


to whatever weather swaggers off the Atlantic or
over the holy nose of Croagh Patrick to ruffle
the supple grasses with no backbone which seem
endlessly agreeable, like polite, forbearing men
in a bar of rowdies. Driven nails, spancels
of barbed wire, rust collars or iron braces-the fenceposts
tighten their grip on these and hang on, perfecting
their art and craft of saying next to nothing
while the rain keeps coming down, the chapping wind
whittles them, and the merciless sun
just stares and stares: yearly the shore is eaten away
and they'll dangle by a thread until salvaged
and planted again in the open field, which they bring
to an order of sorts, showing us how to be at home
and useful in adversity, and weather it.

From Relations: New & Selected Poems by Eamon Grennan
(September 1998) Graywolf Press. Used with permission.

Photo of Highland Cemetery fenceposts by Dan Hardy.
Used with permission.