A DAY TRIP TO IRELAND'S EYE
My feet will not hold,
They slip on seaweed
In rock-pools of stepped rocks
To be climbed from the motor launch:
On my arms,
Like toothless mouths masticating
My flesh to their feed of bruise;
Intent as tug-boats
Hawsered to a towing task,
From the ignominy
Of losing feet and face –
The island has been reached
And I too have been safely beached.
It is at times of such helpless
That I feel pride ebb
To leave uncovered
My hidden, untidy
(A world of panic
With its array of tranquil masks):
The pulled leash of children's hands
And the arm folded arm of their mother
Will lead me up and down and around
This double exposure of land and me:
I am brooding
All of this arrival time
Of my again revealing clamber,
I will survive
Once again to forget
These shores of awkward comings and goings
Where I feel nakedly vulnerable
At the end of a boat-trip from Howth,
In this sound-filled landscape.
Where protesting dinghies boom and groan
On their clumsy journeys back to water:
Every sound heard
Has its own personal connotation
Under a gull-crying sky in August.
* * *
PALACE OF DREAMS
The radiators click to cool:
In the dormitory's quiet,
The boys here from different parts,
Stir restlessly in dreams still alive
Although their faces are succumbed to dark:
Their distant homes are changed
For a collective in this state
Of cared for and being herded blind.
When they wake, hills will again shroud in mist
And fields enfold to fenced imagines
And far things disappear.
In dreams, donkey carts come and go to bogs
And other boys in these dreams hold the reins:
Sleep is here that collapsed banquet hall
From which Simonides escaped
To show how everything in time can know its place.
These boys dream of scenes nearly gone;
The cinematography of life
Reels out the brain's cellulose of seeing:
Faces, places, exotic, banal,
Fade in and out of colour
To scenes of black and white with sepia tones
Until the end. For them sound-tracks alone will remain
Washed of colour in new dreams of remembered frames.
* * *
THE VOCABULARY OF YES
Bartley Dunne's on Stephen's Street,
Was her choice of pub.
It could have been chosen
For many reasons and no reason at all:
To be comfortable with the familiar
Or anonymous to those who knew her.
But there we were drinking and she driving
When driving and drinking was still permissible
And cars were fewer and moved slower then.
It had been a cold November day
Whose night was now ice with sleet
That made the pub all the warmer
And slow to leave until talk
Might wane and drain with the last drink
And search of clues for later.
In smile, nod of head, flick of hair
In a myriad of other silent ways
She probably spoke volumes to the mood
Of the evening drawing to a close
But not to an end
In her lexicon of expressive face
Lost on me that November night
When I was unaware of another vocabulary to yes
And anticipated only the fear of no.