Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Skellig Michael


Two peaks jut out of the ocean—
one for monks, the other for birds.
Eight miles the brothers had to row

and quarry their own steps in the crag.
Ora et labora, prayer and work—they chose
their favorite forms of suffering.

Nine hundred steps above the gray Atlantic,
they slept in dry-stone beehive huts
and fed on fish and puffins.

The holiest ones lived alone
in clefts in the rock over the sea.
Prayer and work, the same routine,

whether the gulf stream joined the sun
or clouds lay on their bellies
preparing to storm,

a few columns of light
falling through as if from an upper room.
Prayer and work every day—

the brothers kept life in one place
and told time
it would not win.


John Sherer is from Birmingham, Alabama. He received his B.A. from the University of Chicago and is currently an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Houston. These are his first published poems.