Friday, March 16, 2012


About ten to four on Saturday
he’d rise to leave, whistling his way
towards the bus stop, cane tapping time
as he rounded the corner, fading.
The ritual involved two silver coins
“for the kids”, left on the mantelpiece,
always like a novel afterthought.

His tidy reticence sometimes unbuttoned
in the smokers fug of family gatherings
venturing out on streams of quiet humour
and gentle verbal lunacy, the way his brothers
had tiptoed in the edges of the sea
before diving under breaking waves.
Masters of digression who defied irrelevance.

Courteous, solid, invisibly familiar.
“Old Men with perfect manners”
Survivors of gaslight, whose father drove
a horse drawn cart. On hand when needed
to help with the necessary, without asking
for praise or credit when the debt was called.
After such a life what memories?
Coming down the steps at Connelly station
The smell and then the noise of Dublin.
He pauses, shakes his head: It was great
the big city
, (laughing) anything was big
after Bettystown.

Box Brownie photos
in an old shoe box?
The cars date passing decades
as the trousers, hats and hairstyles
move towards the time for his departure.
But this is so untidy. And how he would have hated that.

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