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About this poet

Pádraig Ó Tuama received a BA (Div) from Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, and an MTh from Queens University Belfast. He is the author of the poetry collections Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (2017), Sorry for Your Troubles (2013) and Readings from the Books of Exile (2012), all published by Canterbury Press in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015), a book of spiritual reflection.

From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, which works with over 10,000 people a year to transform division through human encounters, with focuses on sectarianism, marginalization, public theology and the legacies of conflict. Ó Tuama lives in Ireland.

Family Tree

They say Satan teased Sarah while
her husband tied their son up on a mountain.
It's an old story: a man tests the limits of religion
while the devil’s on a mission to a woman.

The devil said He's dead! Oh wait! He's not!
Sarah heard a gunshot
and did the only thing she could.
She reached beyond herself and died.

Meanwhile Isaac sees a frenzy
on the face of a patriarch,
and an angel's screaming out a name
and everything's going dark. Afterwards,

they never spoke again. One went
his way and the other went another.
Isaac's mother dead, he followed Hagar
to the desert. Hagar married Abraham

but Isaac stayed away, didn't even send a
text. He pulled the blinds down, tried to rest.
Then his father died, so God blessed Isaac, Isaac
never quite recovered from the loss.

Then Rebecca came along and saw it all.
She'd studied Freud, so knew her boys would
tell stories that their father couldn't bear.
She tore her hair out, then devised a plan.

 

But even she was foiled; her boys grew up.
Her boys forgot the fights of childhood, spat out
bitter herbs, and limped towards each other
when the Angel settled down at last.

There may not be a God or a Sarah.
There may not be a garden or a man who
ordered soup up to his room.
There may not be a mountain.

But there’s always been a woman with the truth.
But there's always been a brother full of shame.
There’s always been a story, and there’s
always been a devil in the details.

“Family Tree” Originally published in Seminary Ridge Review. Copyright © 2017 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

“Family Tree” Originally published in Seminary Ridge Review. Copyright © 2017 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama is the author of Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013). From 2014-2019, Ó Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. He lives in Ireland.

by this poet

poem

It’s funny how things come in
circles.
You, sitting on a step,
smoking a cigarette,
watching leaves fall off a
slowly stripping tree.
Me, hanging photos on a wall,
including one of you
receiving, like a priestess,
your lover’s confession.
Me telling stories of

poem

It is both a dignity and                                                          
a difficulty
to live between these
names,

perceiving politics
in the syntax of
the state.

And at the end of the day,
the reality is
that whether we
change
or whether we stay

poem
And on the first day 
god made 
something up. 
Then everything came along: 

seconds, sex and 
beasts and breaths and rabies; 
hunger, healing, 
lust and lust’s rejections; 
swarming things that swarm 
inside the dirt; 
girth and grind 
and grit and shit and all shit’s functions; 
rings inside the treetrunk 
and