Peter Adair

The Byre Door

Peter Adair

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The Byre Door

Victoria wore black when that door was made.

I rubbed the wood like shrivelled skin,

or Albert’s coffin lid: flaked, pocky, scarred.


The farmer hacked and hammered it between harder tasks:

five planks crossed by three,

an hour’s work he’d be surprised would last,


its rusting nails outseeing eyes

closed in foreign fields.  And still it creaks on its hinge,

waiting, it seems, for me to leave.  Or worse,


suffers the folly of my research,

an unfarmed intruder a century

from the land: no nearby kin, no stroll to church.


  ***


Long ago the cows all bolted.  Today around

me spades, hoes, saws are neatly housed

in frames and, no more shaped to a hand,


a pitchfork and a scythe on the ground.  Implements

like bayonets.  So many ways to wound or maim,

so many ways to kill the light


and end this tourist’s idyll in the past,

my brochure of golden eggs and buttered taties

the pig’s screeching throat well out of earshot,


the dream that self is self-sufficient:

no bent limbs, short lives, the ten times pregnant,

no pestilence that walks by night.


  ***


My fingers puzzle the wood for signs,

dates, names.  I hear rhymes to the Belle of Rathgael,

tales from the Bible or lines from Burns,


the dead who won’t stay quiet.  If I could be,

just breathe and take things in, this summer dream

of a sunlit farm, the woods, the fields.


all this as gift, pure gift.  Be like the byre

whose bricks are cracked and trampled down

yet endure, crumbling, broken but whole.


Peter Adair


Peter Adair won Translink’s poetry competition in April, judged by Colin Dardis. The poem was a broadside from Pen Points Press.  His poems have appeared in the Stare’s Nest and Panning for Poems at poetryni.com. He also writes at #micropoetry. He reads at Open Mic nights at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.