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This article is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

Making the Difference: Eroticism and Ageing in the work of the Women Poet Eavan Boland


It is an evening in summer. The suburb is almost quiet. The Dublin hills are the last colour they will be in the succession of colours they have been all day: a sort of charcoal violet. The trellises and side-walls are well hidden with clematis and sweet-pea. A neighbour's rectangle of rose-garden is full of pastels, with one or two scarlets. A bicycle lies sideways on the ground. A child's plastic mug, with an orange beak on the lid of it, is thrown at the bottom of a step. Everywhere you look there is evidence that this is a landscape of rapid change and ordinary survivals.

I am talking to a woman in the last light. I have just finished cutting the grass at the front and we are outside, between her house and mine. We make that temporary shape that conversing neighbours often assume: not exactly settled into a discussion, yet not ready to leave it either. She lives across the road from me. Her children are. teenagers. Mine are still infants, asleep behind the drawn curtains in the rooms upstairs.

As we talk, I feel the shadow of some other meaning across our conversation, which is otherwise entirely about surface things. That it is high summer in my life: not in hers. That hers is the life mine will become, while mine is the life she has lost. And then the conversation ends. I turn to go in. I lift ...

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