In Saint Vincent’s he lay down,
spoke with effort, woke slowly,
laughed in pain. After,
my father drove me to Stephen’s Green.
In Bewleys I borrowed a cigarette.
Somewhere over Nevada you pass
the dead centre of America,
the still, dry centre of the universe.
The cigarette made me feel worse.
I thought of all the people—
Grandpa Dick, the tiny, stern great
great grandmother whose wedding dress I’d worn—
were they gone? were they anywhere?
Grandpa Owen’s last words on a note in the hall,
‘the skirts are winning’
after a neighbour’s second girl.
Now my father’s brother, robbed of sleep,
brought his book to light
down the end of the long, restless corridor
of night; and in the afternoon,
watching the sweatered players on the tamed green,
he drove his salmon life upstream,
the days took on a different drift, he learned
to fall, and get up, and walk away
into another dream.
Alone on Grafton Street I panned my thoughts.
It came out on top; love, the heaviest truth.