I built my dry-stone walls
In the garden, through the years:
Happy, heavy work,
The most gratifying of chores.
While the light of summer evenings
Turned stones to gold,
Bats and swallows swooped
Under Ned’s big sycamores.
But football on the lawn—
Our game of sweat and cheers—
Placed my walls in jeopardy.
Shots that went wide
Loosened wedges inside
The front wall’s hidden heart,
Like medieval weaponry.
It was cold last night
No stars in sight
No moon to light the way
I thought that you
Might be lonely too
On the eve of All Souls’ Day
The storm had hurled
The teardrops in the world
Against some hearts of stone
I went to you
And told you to
Never cry alone
A rough demo of a new song.
From over here I see you there
Sitting back in the big armchair
And what I’m feeling can’t be said
It stays inside my head
Words will not get me very far
They won’t take me to where you are
They fall like raindrops and flow away
A song based on an old poem of mine.
Time for one more,
Eyes are bright;
In store tonight
Told me often
That she might
Sail the coffin
To the light. Continue reading
[I wrote this in July but forgot to post it here then.]
You should be here in these times
To tell us what you’re thinking:
To show how your sweetness has developed
And your sharpness has increased.
This unholy blur started with shivers:
Our lives’ coldest spell.
You were gone for no reason;
Time passed slowly while snow fell.
Ireland froze, except for rivers of tears.
People sometimes ask Pauline and me how we are coping with losing Sean, and we answer as best we can. Words are inadequate. We are glad that they ask, though. We have sometimes wished that more people would ask, even if we can’t answer properly. It’s not that we want sympathy; it’s that we are still a family of four, and always will be. We like to speak about both of our children.
I have often said that one deals with something like this on different levels. Just a few hours after I had found Sean’s body, I was able to show something to a visitor to our house that I knew would surprise and amuse him, and we laughed about it. I was on that level at that moment. I was also operating on deeper levels at which I was no doubt trying to process, unconsciously, the awful thing that had happened.
I remember that within a week or so of Sean’s death, an online acquaintance became slightly impatient at the fact that I was still talking about it on my blog (in fact I talked a lot about it there for a couple of years). This person saw himself as spiritual, and knew that I saw myself the same way. As far as he was concerned, Sean was in a better place, all was right with the world and the universe, and I really ought to get over it already. I was polite, but I knew that the person in question was being naïve. I could adopt his attitude at one level, but not at all the others. People are not so simple. The online acquaintance stopped commenting on my blog. Continue reading
Pauline and Susanna found a cassette tape in Pauline’s mum’s house yesterday. Sean and Susanna had recorded it on 31 January 2000, when Sean was eight and Susanna was six, to send to their granny and grandad – Peter, their grandad, was seriously ill at the time. As Sean explains at the start, they made it in case granny and grandad didn’t remember their voices – they hadn’t seen them in a while.
On the tape, the two children recite poems, sing songs, and relate their news. Sadly, Peter would die just 10 days later.
When we manage to convert the tape to a usable format, I will post the file here.
Filed under Death, Ireland
I’ve written a bit about Patrick MacGill on this blog before, and given extracts from his work: Patrick MacGill and the Red Horizon and The Women of France. In the centenary year of the start of the First World War, it’s worth considering the experience of the ordinary men who took part (which was brought home to me on a visit to Arras last November). A facet of this is captured well in the following extract, set on a troop-ship crossing to France, from MacGill’s autobiographical novel The Red Horizon.