by Nick Laird
In the strict fulfilment of my vows
I couched on thorns in charnel ground.
I never touched spirits or brews of grain.
Such lengths I took to keep the word
I plucked the hair out of my head
and walked a-squat like some great toad.
I shied from the cutter and neatherd
and ate the twelfth meal only, algae,
ox-dung and moss, wild millets and paddy.
I held my breath for as long as I could,
then got lashed awake with banyan rods.
So far I’ve come alone and naked,
licking my hands after eating, waiting,
to learn if God exists,
I hate Him.
Nick Laird is a lawyer, critic, poet, and novelist. He was born in 1975 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He has lived in Warsaw and Boston, and now lives in London. His fiction and poetry have received many awards, including the Ireland Chair of Poetry prize, the Betty Trask Prize, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. (10/2006)