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This poem is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.Seven Poems
Driving Back Over the Blue Ridge,
you say that the leaves are late in turning.
Half way up the wooded hill to our right
the sun has decanted itself
into a single maple tree.
There are days like that
which sing orange and red
in the forest of our ordinary green.
These are the days we hang our souls upon
as high above them the sun withdraws.
Why should the evening sun
which blasts light through the tops
of the slender yellow poplars in the valley
and of the red wild cherry trees on the hillside;
which lingers, a fillet of light in the dusk,
on the green ridge slanting down
to the hermitage of Santa Eulalia;
which shafts, a slightly opened blue fan,
onto range upon fretted range
of peaks to the west,
why should it flood me too
with unaccountable joy?
No Good Reason
There is no good reason
why my heart should be so gladdened
by a green hillside which turns golden,
or by an echoing jangle of bells –
the mountain’s many-hooved glockenspiel –
or by the sight of the old, bow-legged shepherd
who, propped on his stick,
leans against his jeep and waits
for his son to bring the flock down.
The Magician’s Tale
The magician I met in Lepp Castle
told me that she had grown up
in a magicians’ supplies shop in London.
Her father, a seventeen-year-old from Mayo,
his lungs eaten by tuberculosis,
had been nursed by her mother,
a young Londoner,
who, one Monday morning,
brought him a gift,
a book of magic tricks.
All his long months in the sanatorium he practised,
eventually honing tricks which only he could perform.
He could produce from the healed cavities of his chest
seventeen billiard balls,
and who knows how many handkerchiefs,
how many white, fluttering doves.
Coming around a corner today at Rue Fouroy
The scent of newly-clipped boxwood is
the scent of Dublin forty years ago,
the scent of summer cities –
a scatter of boxwood clippings on canvas.
Behind the double, upside-down u’s
of the green iron stile
and a man in corduroys.
His long-handled clippers click
the child-sized hedges into neat green blocks
opening onto a world of fountains spilling and spilling
their profligate freshness into the summer light.
musty with lupins, heavy with bees.
And the swings –
oak seats worn to satin,
with iron chains
creaking and creaking solemnly,
weight swinging us up,
in our short-sleeved frocks,
higher and higher,
into the fruiting chestnut trees.
In Buenos Aires the sidewalks are broken,
but the trees are tall and blue,
blue like Cézanne’s blue pitcher,
which speaks to some still corner of the soul –
a quite unnecessary, delicate blue –
and the unmended pavements are strewn
with a carpet of blue blossoms,
and with the bent pennies,
the tough leathery purses,
which are the seed cases of the Jacaranda –
a surety, until now,
that there would certainly
be more and more of this,
more tall blue trees in October,
above the dusty pavements
out of thousands of blue,
In the choir of the Église St Martin,
just beneath the light-blasted gothic vaults -
are a number of small holes,
the openings of large ceramic pots
placed in the walls
to improve the acoustic.
Lucius Mummius, who destroyed
the theatre at Corinth,
transported its resonating bronze vessels to Rome
and dedicated them
at the temple of Luna.
In cottages in Co. Clare,
an iron pot or horse’s skull
was buried under the hearthstone
to give resonance to a dancer’s step,
to contain the necessary emptiness
for though we wish to live
utterly alive, within our skins,
there lives in us another yearning –
that whatever harmonic is awakened in us,
through our voice, our step,
This poem is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.