It’s bold of me to suggest a bond with you because my people were the butchers and station workers in the town near your tower. Still, my grandfather, the station porter must have greeted you often, taken your baggage as you arrived on the train from Dublin. My mother and her sisters as little girls must have waved as you passed in the Lady’s carriage. I wonder if you ever waved back. There was the time you were walking in the town and my grandmother hurried my aunt away from you. Stay away from that man, he’s crazy, he’s looking for ghosts. How presumptuous to say I sensed you when I was nearly twenty, cycling around the Seven Churches, Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee, in a constant, October twilight.
When I emerged from the woods by the Tower, after searching for the millwheel from one of your poems, I couldn’t help myself. There was a middle-aged couple from Minnesota smiling toward me. I was that rare species of bird they had hoped to spot. I greet them with a brogue, introduce myself with my Gaelic name. I ask if there are many Scandinavians where they live.
Being led by the story, I say I was orphaned at a young age, just back from years working in Boston and singing in the bars. I’m trying to buy back the lost family farm. And yes, my grandfather was the Poet’s caretaker for many years. And since they ask, yes, I am a poet myself. They suggest what great inspiration I must feel from this place. After a pause, gazing toward the woods, I say ‘yes’ in a low, prayerful tone.
As they take my picture, I portray the stiff dignity in photos of my grandfathers. I give a firm country handshake and wish them ‘safe journey’. They wait patiently by their car, one last smile and wave as I return to the woods. My apologies to those good people.
I’ve thought of how when visitors call, they might show the album of their Irish trip. They point out that nice, slightly tragic young man, Tadg O’Duibhir, inspired by the great poet Yeats. They wonder what became of him. By now, they may be long gone, and I’m boxed in the attic of their daughter or son.