Perplexed in Arcadia

Nuala Ní Chonchúir

One Grace summons her sisters to contemplate an anti-aircraft gun she had taken for the bird from the Stymphalian marsh—the one that scoffs flesh with its metal feathers.

‘Why did it land in Arcadia?’ she asks, realising her mistake. ‘Is it stopping over on the way to Kabul? Will it knock planeloads of child soldiers into oblivion?’

The gun stalks, avian-wise, towards this huddle of sisters, while the shepherds in the field discuss life and discuss death. The Three Graces form a circle to shield each other. Three sisters: one red-haired, one green-haired, one blue.


Nuala Ní Chonchúir lives in Galway, Ireland. She is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Her third full poetry collection, The Juno Charm, was published by Salmon Poetry in November 2011. Her fourth short story collection, Mother America, was published by New Island in June 2012. Nuala’s story ‘Peach’, published in Prairie Schooner, won the Jane Geske Award and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.