Them were the days, the water frozen in the pump
the moon heavy as lead, cold in the ice fogged window
sit closer, I don’t see so well, one eye all but dead
traces of snow under the hedgerows, on the bare stone
and bog grass higher up, we brought in wood and sticks
looked to the chookies, milked the cow, before a breakfast
of stale bread and last night’s tea, barefoot to school,
to the mills, the long walk back down mud lanes already
half dark, a father cutting scrap iron in the yard, orange
sparks lepping in the air—sit closer to the fire, things
become vague, faces come and go, mixed up with time,
after the first death there is no other, I watched them all
getting carried out, and then you are old: the farmer
wanted the place down but I wouldn’t go, not for love
of these old damp walls, holed roof, no plumbing—
so he put rats in through the back door, scuttling everywhere,
they bit my legs and hands, but I’m still here, all he needed
to buy was a coffin—everything becomes confused, they want
me to go to a care home now, but it’s not for me, all those fussy
people washing at you: once, I sneaked out at night, in the winter
time, the house quiet, everyone sleeping like the dead—why,
I don’t know, but I went up to the bit of pine forest at the
Vanishing Lough, and sat shivering as I looked at the sliver
of bright moon on the water, one gleaming star, the air
so sharp it would cut the lungs from your body, and the world
seemed so big to a child back then—I don’t know why
I remember this, why it’s in my head at all, but there you are.