and in my flesh shall I see God…

They step beside you, the faithful ones,
tapping you on the shoulder with fingers of air,

writing to you
in rediscovered postcards, from avenues in the sun,

blessing you with the useless gifts
you hesitate to throw away.

They grow animated as you approach the field
beneath whose heathers they have, for a season,

vanished; like orchids among the downland grasses—
twayblade, for example, with its small musk-scented flowers,

or helloborine, white lady, with its nectar, its fragrances.
They will lie, the ruined bodies,

waiting, in the scraped earth, under JCB and rubble,
but will lift again, in original beauty, in a new season. Now

it is Ireland, and summer, though fields and rain
make dismal harmonies; I, too,

am of Ireland, its dirge and requiem,
its adagio; I have tried to find

wild-meadow oratorios that might offer yet
heart-warming clarities.

Handel came, to write something
for the Dublin poor, and he offered them Messiah,

in the Musick Hall, Fishamble-street, the ladies
to come without hoops, the gentlemen

without swords, so he could find scope
for the Christ-birth pastoral, and for the lift

of a Hallelujah! We walked the commonage
—where skylarks trilled over marsh and heathland—

in search of orchid; the brow of bare Ben Bulben
stood in the distance

with sunlight passing across
like a herd of light-green horses;

and I have been wondering
about the usefulness of poetry,

if it is eucharist, to consume and be consumed.
Handel gave the words

a music of troubling grace: we shall be changed,
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye though the Christ

is not yet substance of the earth, nor is humankind
coherent to the extent of love. Child

of the times I seek
orchid-faithfulness to the tasking poetry of spirit

while they step beside me still, the faithful ones
and tip me on the shoulder with their asking fingers of air :