In the island’s new shop,
a place geared
towards tourists, I find
a crate of etchings

made by a woman
from the next island.
In one, a small stone house

under a black onslaught
of diagonal cuts.
This one I like
I tell Nuala, the girl

who keeps shop. The one
with the night? she asks.
But what I see is lashing rain.
Is March storm. Is

shelter in a howler
of a gale. I want
to show you too
but you are up the hill

trying to finish a poem
of how we almost
lost each other
in our own black spring.

When we were twenty,
to escape
our landlady’s eyes
we bicycled

out of Sligo and camped
above Lough Gill.
We rigged a plastic sheet
for shelter.

Two things I remember
from that night:
the way we woke to find
the full moon

beneath which we’d earlier
made love
to a rust red ring

and how by morning
our sleeping bags
were drenched
despite the plastic sky.

Something in me
doesn’t understand
why I’m here
walking past my friend’s home

instead of him. The same March day
I drifted
on the operating table in Boston,
this island friend died.

I’d been back on Cape Clear
almost a week
before I felt ready to wander
through knee-high grass

looking for his grave.
Last year
I couldn’t comprehend
why every poem I wrote

seemed ringed by death;
after our old dog Seamus
died, I hoped
those poems would stop.

Summer evenings
when our children were young
we’d set up elaborate games
of croquet. Seamus

would crouch on the sidelines,
trembling with excitement
until, no longer able to stand it,
he’d swoop through

and make off with
someone’s wooden ball.
For the length of the game
we renamed Seamus Fate,

and if he took a ball
and ran with it
we had to play it
where it lay.