Longford: Half Inch OS Map, Sheet No.12 – Evelyn Kelly

A film response to the poem Longford: Half Inch OS Map, Sheet No.12′ by Edward Denniston

Longford: Half Inch OS Map, Sheet No.12 by Edward Denniston

…the map must use symbols that are almost always much bigger than the features they represent…

Under a flood of angle poise (again)
I lean over to look down on Longford –
the primrose, sandy-yellow, ochre colours
east and west – spilling towards
the flood plain’s turquoise green –
the bog, glacial till, esker islands –
shoring up the blue meander-slow
Shannon. Into Lough Ree…

and the messy lattice
of trunk, link, third class roads
has me ( again) revisiting.
As maps do, my map of Longford
points back, unfolded,
it’s twenty one panels tell me
no sign is fully self-explanatory;
there are silences, complications,

ground truth that can’t re-presented.
With my finger I trace a little road,
south of Back of the Hill to Crossea,
where you brought me (when
I’m not sure) to explore a disappearing lake,
where the county boundary might have
floated on the water or in summer,
lay strung along the muddy bottoms.

I’ll take my time, cycle from town
and afterwards to Carraigboy,
to the pub, by way back roads
through Legan – or was that another day
wandering the county? Another lake?
We were on the county border too
at Scabby bridge, this map between us
spread on the bonnet of the car

tracing our way, Bulahy, Dring maybe,
little roads you’d half remember
with a story – talk of fishing places
more than likely. You’re pencil marks
are here for me, and on the margins,
townland names scribbled.
Driving west, at the brow of the hill
just before Bunbrusna I see

Longford – mapped, actual. To say
the bog’s endlessness near Lisduff
is any bog, or that sycamore darkened
turn by the canal, or the pub
I’ve yet to find near Abbeylara
could be anywhere, any county,
is not to discern my map,
spread before me – signs, symbols,

the shifting legend to which – again
and again – I manifestly return.