The first time you sought me out
Instead of the other way around,
You’d brought something from home: a bodhran
Slung from one shoulder

(which of course you’d promised to do
but I have disciplined myself
to expect nothing – they only starve
who admit they are hungry.)

My first lesson, jig-time and reel-time
And your admonition to slow down
Assuming my familiarity with the music
Has made me impatient.

I assure you this is why my hand shakes.
This is why my laugh is brittle and airless,
This is why my rhythm stumbles, why I grip the beater
With livid knuckles, why I chase you out the door,

‘So I’ll only bore myself.’
It has nothing whatever to do with the fact
That the head of the drum bears the imprint of your hand,

That I can smell your cheek in its wooden frame
Or that striking its skin is such a poor substitute
For touching yours.

You leave; I place it in a comer. At night
The weather changes
And the drum, clenching about its frame, speaks.