for Maureen and Fergus

With hoof and claw animals are born tonight
and in the here-and-there of the countryside
there are glimpses of electric light.

Like ragged soldiers in retreat we are on the road,
back to where we came from, wheeling over hayseed,
corn-dust, carrion, proceeding with caution

through the only street in a darkened village.
Here and there in random places we find last vestiges
of a filling station or a parish hall

that used to be the destination of travelling-players.
A few starlings out late whisk the air
with their flying formation.

Waving goodbye to Maudlin Street, to that garden
planted with Blood of the Boyne apple trees
we slip into the flow of motorway traffic,

a journey flanked by sites of battle,
hay-bales standing in their short-lived shadows—
monuments to the summer that fattened them.