Needed treacle of weddings and funerals.
Lyrical lessons of musical hedge-schools,
Strummed in secret,
Plucked at the harpist’s peril,
thought Turlough O’Carolan
gripping her mane
and bending his back to the back of the mare,
bumpily trotting the bad roads
beside watery green
boglands and sea lanes and fields of moraine
and peaks that, crowds dropping sheets on,
vanished, to glimmer back into view.
Harpsong. Rain patter.
unfailing as fog, lodged in the rain
out of droplets born.
To the west—the warmth of the sea
drew to itself his crumbling vision:
sealight, viewed via blocks of blur—
light even a blind man could see,
light genial and diffuse.
Harpsong—the poem-preceding tune come some clamoring after.
Boy!, he shouted to the dimness, ahead, Boy!
(They were late but only a day or so)
late for the feast, but what, so?
Folks would wait a week or more—
for they needed him, in a way
as much as the bride. Needed him
as people rarely need a blind man, to begin,
So, he barked, snarkily,
Let them wait. Repeating,
Let them wait!
His mother was southern
Jenny was her name. Jenny Bluet.
She had the bloodlines, the gold
acres of scratchy tobacco—
the ground where she played was radiant;
His papi tumbled in from Charleston.
She grew to love him.
He, too, had a name,
a seedbed and a space-heater.
They called him Harley—
Harley Trefoil Bluet.
Altogether so cool.
Unaccountably, while I was eating a liverwurst sandwich
(with mustard and cornichon, on rye)
the poem took a dive
off the countertop, I don’t know why,
onto the floor and burst into words
which can be either blunt or sharp, heaven knows.
There was nothing to do
but sweep it up
eat the sandwich and, and…
…put on shoes.
Now is the time to come,
and the tree, swept clean
of blossoms, hosed
into the gutter, like after-the-wedding
confetti, stands merely green.
But what green!
Overnight, the busy painter, not loath,
(for Nature abhoreth a vacuum)
tints each leaf with
gold betokening growth.
We shove back brims—
to an ancient song
coin novel words;
marvel how the times return
and returning, move along.
Like a land-locked sea, slowly drying up
from the edges in, till just
a splash of its former self—your long-dead relations
the island survivors you knew them—
this old photo, gnawed by light, fades away.
Here, in pearls, is your lovely mother
in spats, your matinee idol father.
Here, your aunt, before spinsterhood set in,
posing primly before the prom.
And, my God, the furniture!
It has everything to do with the light:
the fingers of the light rub the borders of the lake
like Time. And chemistry, that we must also say
without quite knowing why.
Anyhow, it fades.
inevitably, for hide it,
hang it in the dark or otherwise
dilute the light, it still
slides in like a tide, a drop-off, reaching
in a century or so, their knees.