Summer officially ended here
so it should be on its way to you
with muito amor

We return home
to the rain-smudged ink
of two soggy postcards
from Shay—both delivered
on the same day
one from Montevideo
one from Rio de Janeiro,
the dates washed off.

Even so, I have a
thought-stopping second
when the radio announces
that Shay O’Byrne
was shot dead
in Dublin last night.

The Shay O’Byrne
who left us here—
in the slow-mauving
sunsink that enters the bones
to honour the seasons of friendship
while he seeks the quinquereme
of Nineveh, expecting every
blushful day to reach itself
into his hands—has been to a carnival.

Elizabeth Bishop wrote from Rio
in 1957, of the carnival’s decline.
The last one she saw
one awful night in the rain
after a film of David
and Bathsheba.

Everyone dressed as Bathsheba
or David
and all the rest
seemed to be men wearing false breasts.

You can’t call it relief,
nor gladness, that
someone I never met,
half our Shay’s age,
has died.

But as though under those far
generous skies, a flick of language,
a pulse of chance, a nudge of names,
has reached him, Shay says,
as if he already knows
at the time of writing
both in Montevideo
and in Rio

Tonight I intend to drink
more wine than is necessary.