Lacking an ordained task,
I sit in the blue chair facing south,
rain on the circular field past Ballyhaine,
rifts of blue opened by the wind,
a taper of baling twine
from last year’s sweet pea,
caught in the current and blown
to where the tulips lie gusted in defeat.
I watch some footage of Auden
on a summer’s day in Kirchstetten,
his belly barrelled and buttoned in the middle,
holding a canvas satchel
jaunting down a narrow grassy track
tilting like Keaton towards some casual fall
the picket gate unlatched
his white VW opened
dust raised along the dirt road veering north.
He is going somewhere for a reason
to buy a carton of milk or cigarettes
to meet an appointment with a doctor or nurse
to admire bodies on a tree-lined lake
to stop and look at a suicide’s grave.
The wind slackens
before an onslaught of rain.
I’ll not stir out today.
I’ll clean the grate,
build a fire,
close down the damper,
return to the blue chair,
and watch the storming day
berate the windows.
‘I was never bored’ he said to Parky once
‘Fatigued, disconsolate, melancholy,
but never bored.
It never was a feature of my generation.
Between Eros and dust
between one Martini and the next
between poems and wars
sonority and authenticity
everything that happens
happens to persist.
Is it failure then
not to affirm
that burning desire
to celebrate being
in all its forms?
Another storm streams in
from beyond Black Head,
fire shadows rise and fall,
I stir the embers to a blaze,
to a shatter burst of tongues,
and cast my eyes to the storm-bent
sycamores, knowing the resisted life –
intricate in the darkness
is everywhere to be seen.