Monday, October 31, 2016


Heron in Amsterdam
In the clean water of Amsterdam's sprawling city centre park this summer I watched a heron.

It seems an unlikely bird for a city. I associate it with country rivers, with a particular Welsh beach and a poem by Michael Longley in memory of Kenneth Koch which is about the relationship between poets, friendship, illness. So Longley made the link between that New York writer and this ash coloured bird.

Tonight, Halloween, the kids outside are shouty and excited. Mums and small kids have done with the door to door knocking and now there's a gathering somewhere on a corner of younger teenagers who filling the early dark with screams. I am in the middle of my first batch of marking, distracting myself with novels by Walter Mosely - such a stylist - and Annie Proulx. The Airbnb guests left in the afternoon sunshine, Giya went back to Cardiff last night, Mrisi has a gig and the house is still. Tonight I'm not answering the door because I'm unprepared - no sweets to distribute, not even biscuits or cake and for no apparent reason, I remembered this heron.

Is that the sequence of thought then - summer over, day of the dead, Longley the poet of the dead as a master of elegy, the elegy to Kenneth Koch which has always lingered in my mind for its honesty and its craft.