We halted on the other bank and watched A milky water run from the pierced side Of milk itself, the crock of its substance spilt Across white limbo floors where shift-workers Waded round the clock, and the factory Kept its distance like a bright-decked star ship. There we go, soft-eyed calves of the dew, Astonished and assumed into florescence. I panicked at the shiftiness and heft Of the craft itself. What guaranteed us That quick response and buoyancy and swim Kept me in agony. All the time As we went sailing evenly across The deep, still, seeable-down-into water, It was as if I looked from another boat Sailing through air, far up, and could see How riskily we fared into the morning, And loved in vain our bare, bowed, numbered heads.
II Claritas. Lines Hard and thin and sinuous represent The flowing river. Down between the lines Little antic fish are all go.
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Nothing else. All afternoon, heat wavered on the steps And the air we stood up to our eyes in wavered Like the zig-zag hieroglyph for life itself. III Once upon a time my undrowned father Walked into our yard. I threw stones At a bird on the shed roof, as much for The clatter of the stones as anything, But when he came back, I was inside the house And saw him out the window, scatter-eyed And daunted, strange without his hat, His step unguided, his ghosthood immanent.
When he was turning on the riverbank, The horse had rusted and reared up and pitched Cart and sprayer and everything off balance So the whole rig went over into a deep Whirlpool, hoofs, chains, shafts, cartwheels, barrel And tackle, all tumbling off the world, And the hat already merrily swept along The quieter reaches. That afternoon I saw him face to face, he came to me With his damp footprints out of the river, And there was nothing between us there That might not still be happily ever after. An upstairs outlook on the whole country.
First milk-lorries, first smoke, cattle, trees In damp opulence above damp hedges He has it to himself, he is like a sentry. Forgotten and unable to remember The whys and wherefores of his lofty station, Wakening relieved yet in position, Disencumbered as a breaking comber.
As his head goes light with light, his wasting hand Gropes desperately and finds the phantom limb Of an ash plant in his grasp, which steadies him. Now he has found his touch he can stand his ground. Or wield the stick like a silver bough and come Walking again among us: the quoted judge. I could have cut a better man out of the hedge! God might have said the same, remembering Adam. Yet I hear an old sombre tide awash in the headboard: Unpathetic och ochs and och bobs, the long bedtime Anthems of Ulster, unwilling, unbeaten, Protestant, Catholic, the Bible, the beads, Long talks at gables by moonlight, boots on the hearth, The small hours chimed sweetly away so next thing it was.
The cock on the ridge-tiles.
Again and again and again, cargoed with Its own dumb, tongue-and-groove worthiness And un-get-roundable weight. Can always be reimagined, however four-square. Plank-thick, hull-stupid and out of its time It happens to be. II It could have been the drenched weedy gardens Of Peredelkino: a reverie Of looking out from late-winter gloom Lit by tangerines and the clear of vodka, Where Pasternak, lenient yet austere, Answered for himself without insistence.
I felt there was some duty Time was passing. And with all its faults, it has more value Than those early It is richer, more humane. Or it could have been the thaw and puddles Of Athens Street where William Alfred stood On the wet doorstep, remembering the friend Who died at sixty. Ah well. Good-night again.
III The eaves a water-fringe and steady lash Of summer downpour: You are steeped in luck, I hear them say, Steeped, steeped, steeped in luck. And hear the flood too, gathering from under, Biding and boding like a masterwork Or a named name that overbrims itself. Their in-placeness Still more in place when mirrored in canals.
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My silting hope. My lowlands of the mind. Heaviness of being. And poetry Sluggish in the doldrums of what happens. Me waiting until I was nearly fifty To credit marvels. Like the tree-clock of tin cans The tinkers made. So long for air to brighten, Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten. The anchor dragged along behind so deep It hooked itself into the altar rails And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,. A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope And struggled to release it. But in vain. Out on Lough Neagh and in where cattle stood Jostling and skittering near the hedge Grew redolent of the tweed skirt and tweed sleeve.
I nursed on. I remember little treble Timber-notes their smart heels struck from planks, Me cradled in an elbow like a secret. Open now as the eye of heaven was then Above three sisters talking, talking steady In a boat the ground still falls and falls from under. One meaning of that Beyond the usual sense of alleviation, Illumination, and so on, is this:. A phenomenal instant when the spirit flares With pure exhilaration before death The good thief in us harking to the promise!
Ached for at the moon-rim of his forehead, By nail-craters on the dark side of his brain: This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. A whole new quickened sense of what rifle mean And then again as it was in the beginning I saw the soul like a white cloth snatched away.
Across dark galaxies and felt that shot For the sin it was against eternal life Another phrase dilating in new light. Imagined in the dawn cold when it cried? Where does it roost at last? Or a marble bust commanding the parterre? How habitable is perfected form? And how inhabited the windy light?
Set questions for the ghost of W. Vietnam-bound, He could have been one of the newly dead come back,. Unsurprisable but still disappointed, Having to bear his farmboy self again, His shaving cuts, his otherworldly brow. Clustered and flicked and tempted us to trust Their unpredictable, attractive light. We were like herded shades who had to cross. They do not. What lucency survives Is blanched as worms on nightlines I would lift, Ungratified if always well prepared.
For the nothing there - which was only what had been there. Although in fact it is more like a caught line snapping, That moment of admission of All gone ,. Only in light of what has been gone through.
Quotes / Poetry (That I like) - KAL LAVELLE
Seventh heaven may be The whole truth of a sixth sense come to pass. It looked like a clump of small dusty nettles Growing wild at the gables of the house Beyond where we dumped our refuse and old bottles: Unverdant ever, almost beneath notice. But to be fair, it also spelt promise And newness in the back yard of our life As if something callow yet tenacious Sauntered in green alleys and grew rife.
The snip of scissor blades, the light of Sunday Mornings when the mint was cut and loved: My last things will be the first things slipping from me. Yet let all things go free that have survived. Let the smell of mint go heady and defenceless Like inmates liberated from that yard.
Rain Sayings and Quotes
Maybe, heavens, sing Better times for her and her generation. Their gist in your tongue and province should be clear Even at this stage. Poetry, order, the times, The nation, wrong and renewal, then an infant birth And a flooding away of all the old miasma. But when the waters break Banns stream will overflow, the old markings Will avail no more to keep east bank from west. The valley will be washed like the new baby.
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What on earth could match it? And then, last month, at noon-eclipse, wind dropped. A millennial chill, birdless and dark, prepared.
A firstness steadied, a lastness, a born awareness As name dawned into knowledge: I saw the orb. Big dog daisies will get fanked up in the spokes.