i. Closing up

You folded blankets and put them in the armoire.
There was a grace in that and no surprises.
You folded sheets, dried in Whiddy Island sun.
You pressed them with your hands, there was no need of ironing.

We were closing up the rented summer house,
Leaving it for the next ones—dusting, swabbing,
Replacing, locking the clean windows,
Moving as two solids through the solids of the house,
Moving as one soul through the souls of the house,
For there had been many souls and there would be the next ones
(And during one bad moment I had been many souls),

Moving through the bad and good moments of the house—
The yard outside with its daily sheep droppings
Because of the gaps in the fence, blue sky and white clouds above.

Fresh flowers are better than dried flowers any day,
Except when pressed into the pages of a book,
The words on the page written, sold, published, not changing, there,
The dried flower (a cornflower, in our case) also there
But infinitesimally changing, desiccating, browning at the edges
Like the paper of the pages and hats off to that.

What is done between two people can never be undone.
What is said between two people can never be unsaid,
To try to change in the mind what happened
Is to block transfiguration.

You were upstairs folding sheets that smelled of sun.
I left out on a table a tacky summer book.
No one would ever press a flower into it. Or would they?
Who knows what things can happen in houses?


ii. Cowbells

‘Do cows still wear them?’
you’d asked. We were not
near Klosters. So, ‘No.’
We were on Whiddy Island
where the cows are wild.
Their ears twitch.
Their… who cares? We
were together, homing—
road, hill, house.
Long time ago.

‘Was this your house?’
Serge asked, a friend
in pilgrimage.
I couldn’t speak, which was
the same as ‘yes.’

Two storeys, white,
red the trim, green the yard
and brown.
Someone—a couple again?—
lives there all the time now:
sheets, shirts, pants,
flapping on plastic strings
in open Irish air.
‘Cowbells somewhere?’
he asked.

Day, that’s sure, day ballooning
like a shirt faded clean
by sun and wind. Hill, house.
A smell of bed.
Not Klosters. But cowbells.
Yes, cowbells.