THE BANKS OF THE BANN
Room to breathe, then a quick intake of breath,
eyes closed with the shadows of childhood
leading you back a wilful path beside stile and ditch,
low factories, thin trees to the outlet pipes.
Evening sinks on tributaries, gold chains draped
across the triptych-mirrors of a dressing-table,
the lace throw’s tasselled edges over the glass top
where an embossed silver brush and white-toothed comb
lie at arm’s-length from a careful, childless woman.
Wardrobes clang hangers in lonely corners.
The dimpled diffuser lies limp on the perfume bottle.
The growing has stopped, the breathing eased,
between the water meadows and orchard gardens.
Dreaming of its source and death in the sea, the river
is a light sleeper turning between grassy banks,
a cold mattress of bones, histories and other rotted things
pressing its flesh, the sky’s reality disappearing fast
in night sweeping upstream from the lough.
BETWEEN THE RAIN
The steaming flank of road the colour
of slumped coal. Tyres stick to the tarmac,
the clicks and clacks of releasing tread.
The warm, baked smell of wet grass.
Flies fizzing around privet blooms
are bubbles in carbonated water.
The graveyard between the railway
and motorway, the headstones gleaming
like raindrops on a grave or bent leaf.
It’s that close; you could dip your hand.
Close enough to see your face contorted
in the clean lens, its tight globe of sky.
Your hand against the sun over your eyes.
The clouds arrive like landing-craft,
in deep formations, camouflaged white.
Thunder mumbles behind the distance,
trundles along the cloudbase like an invisible
ship. Divisionism, Renoir sunspots,
sycamore moths litter a path divided
into kilometres, numerals stenciled in yellow.
Troll-trash under one small stone bridge.
A dragon’s canine. Water stands in
the gutters and puddles the dangerous curve
of the lane. A magpie is exhausted by
silver paper, and stealth swallows execute
low, strafing runs. A pair of girls, walking
with hand-held music, say, ‘This is bliss.’
The day evens out like mercury.
Peace you could carry home. Red nets
are disentangled from chipped goalposts
that seem to float above the pitch.
The bald groundsman concentrates
his stoop like an apostle stitching the knots.