‘A terrible beauty is born.’—W B Yeats, ‘Easter 1916’

We wanted to remember how far we’d come
after twenty years of being together
as man and man fighting
to be relaxed about it;
remembering when you were ill
being asked if I were next of kin;
remembering the apologies
(even in Italian)
that a room was double not a twin.

Now sitting before an officer
of the Irish State and being asked
if we would care to light candles
(like at Hanukkah or Mass)
or exchange rings,
as though it were a wedding,
which it is not.

And so instead we asked to read:
a poem by Rilke and an excerpt
from a seventies manifesto
of the Gay Liberation Front.
We wanted to remember how far we’d come
in the forty years since then.

But must they now approve
the script and wording of the past
for fear it sits uneasy with this place
and time in which we rise
and so define ourselves?
Manifestos (it is said)
belong at factory gates,
at corners of a street,
or on steps of public monuments
inciting violence and struggle.

There’s no provision for appeal,
the senior registrar is resolute:
nothing political can be read.
But it’s history now not politics:
few remember politics.
It’s history you remember:
the shout and the embrace of it,
the creative dignity
of kissing in the street.

That’s beautiful it’s like
The Proclamation at the Post Office,
Yeats’s recurring line…
Can we read that?
There is silence, I think I’ve lost him:
he doesn’t know the text of that,
after all he wasn’t even born
and a hundred years is a long time:
try to celebrate.