from ‘This Floating World’

By | 1 December 2009

5. Lone figure, Malin Head

The wind talks of its travels (and the muse's head
does turn to listen to the words it so wants to hear).

And its wildness is something remembered,
as if long, long ago it clung to me.

And it is wild-reaping. It's the future coming at us,
the past just loitering that little bit too long.

And it is distance, and does not sow its sides to bring us together.
Instead, it leaves the measurement as is:

Horizon without any trace of you, and
these eyes searching and never getting close enough.

And my head is in the ocean; my head is all out to sea.
Full of splashes, I'm fleet-footed

As the weather turns sharply like cut stone.
It blades the face and all that it touches.


13. The other woman, Derry

The evening air is like a ghost tonight
embracing all things,
yet our frozen breath covers the distance.

And breath is touch.
It comes like storm, full with lightning
full with high cloud cramming the sky.

And this breath comes like wave,
rolling over and into this room
like a king tide sinking the night.

This breath is like moonlight,
falling across my cheek, and then onto lips
in all its illumination.

And this breath speaks.
This breath that finds me in the darkness.
This breath that falls and is fallen.


35. A husband to his wife, Westport

What we do well is sleep and talk.
The talk is much the same,
it searches for hands.
We mutter words.
We sing a psalm of syllables
under a cloak of many midnights.

And we wait.

We wait for the passing of cloud,
then we do our talking in our sleep.
It's a measured language of fingertip,
of palm on palm. Of skin on skin.
(My lips are yours and always have been.)

We talk the night through
until the world's ears listen.
Until things fall ever still.
And this phenomenon owns mystery,
it glows like a pearl. It is polished so.
It buries darkness, it undresses itself from itself
to allow us a soft-steeped journey.

Then we wait.

We wait for birdsong,
wait for sorrow to return to us.
This is how we breathe our lives through.


78. Widower sitting on the edge of his bed, Kinsale

Your presence surrounds all things today.
Even the trees are talking to the wind,
even birds call your name. Clouds look like angels.

I remember how you tasted like honey
inside a room once full of sunshine.
These curtains, how they fluttered like wings.


40. Man making a pot of tea, Tuam

There are a lot of tears in the Bible.

A lot of promises
and a lot of zesty talk –
the right hand of love
and the left hand of hate.

I get to thinking sometimes
as to whether or not
God has a great ledger book
slapped fat and wide across the sky
where he writes all the lives out.

He's up to volume 636.
And you're in it.
And he's oohing and aahing
about what he wants to do with you.
And I have no say in the matter.


83. The angel of death, Dublin

And the nurse said:
The trouble is the length of him.
I still don't know what she meant by it,

But we both watched as he tumbled and turned
in the hospital bed and spat out his words:
Christ almighty, Christ almighty.

And he looked keen into my eyes
like a ghost who sees its future.
It was then that I thought that death

Grows inside of him like a talent.
It ticks a false time,
but the heart holds a prayer deep inside of it.


86. Bog man, Museum of Ireland (Dublin)

First, I travelled
sensuously through liquid lace,
going down, inch by slow inch,
into my private cell.

Then flat and distorted I became,
just a stain of skin,
a mere squeeze of bone and skull.
A tan of shadow, as in a strange relic,
as in an appeasement
for the gods who whisper of fertility.

Once there
I was as snug as a bug in a rug
in all my folds,
my skin growing darker by the hour.
Silence flowed through me
until I was stripped bare.

I'm surrounded by a city
I'd never known nor could imagine
and I hear all sorts of things,
great whispers of gossip.

I'm all ears.

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