To Name these Holy Ruins

To Name these Holy Ruins

The sacrilege of speaking a name
without knowing its meaning
is an act of trespassing
on the grounds of language.
A language of the burned cities
that live in each other,
of the relics we carry in our chests
and corpses in our finger-ends:
all of these ring with the skin of teeth
and clang with the purse of lips—

when uttered unwisely
we shatter, we stumble,
we forget our bearings
just as a car doesn’t know its way
without a human’s device,
we lose ourselves without the right
name for our bodies,

your body is a temple
you have not yet found your way out of

and I apologise to every sentry
who has stood like a weapon
around its perimeter
only to be informed
that their fortress
would crumble

if ever the wrong mouth
said its name.

Matthew O'Rourke


Matthew O'Rourke is an Irish poet and short fiction writer whose work has been recognized by VIBE, Chinchilla Lit, Rotary, and Immrama. He was shortlisted for the Edna O'Brien Writers Bursary in 2020. His writing traverses cursed settings, matters of healing and release, and identity.