Sunday, October 21, 2007

The sky's filled in when I arrive home this afternoon - on the jigsaw that's been at the end of my kitchen table for too long. I guess it's mum. The sun's blazing through the blinds of my room, low and autumnal. I've been in Limerick.

At 9 this morning I was walking by the river Shannon with Marilyn Hacker's Seine poems on my mind, oh and Langston Hughes' masterpiece.... Those and a weekend full of others breathed into the city during Cuisle, the annual poetry festival.

This generous river offers a picturebook castle, swans, wagtails and gulls. I could have walked all morning, trying to keep pace, simplify my overcrowded mind. How many discussions between the water and the mud? Would it take an oar or a rod to translate the river? Does the lorry passing over a bridge have anything to do with the cormorant?

On the bridge, by Jury's hotel, through the trees was a heron in flight. I thought of the cranes I became oblivious to in South Africa. Then the heron seemed like sadness returning. I walked faster and wondered if it was the whisky last night. My father's drink, my father's bleakness - a legacy of Merthyr. Then he's ahead of me as I walk under a bridge towards the castle. He disappears below a wall. I wonder if I imagined him, but as I look over the fence, I disturb him. He leaves the mud, flies off screeching, to a post in the water where he stays.

I sit on a bench and watch him hunched, compact, quiet. I'll put sadness down to late nights and booze, shift it by imagining poems floating as paper boats. I remember Cahal's celebration of gluttony and love, Michael's gift to his grandson, Barbara's birth of an angel, Theo's unforgettable vigil, Gabrielle's sonnets, Eilean's delicate surprises. These poems are still in my mind at the end of today as the clock heads towards midnight.

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