YOUR FRIENDS SAY SOÖ
to Pearse H.
Yesterday I was on Cap Gris Nez, not far from here.
Ornithologists were sitting there on folding-chairs
in the hillside grass. They were studying through binoculars
the migration behaviour of birds. This cape
is a point of reference on their flight south.
People say you have become fragile, your friends
say so, too. I know the path from the pub
past the back-gardens to your house. Catalan cap, eternal rain-coat,
bag with cans of Heineken. I know your path.
You donít have to explain anything,
you donít have to ask an excuse for anything. Nothing much has happened
since we last met. I have returned to
this remote corner where nothing much ever happens. Enough, though,
itís also been enough. Once in a while
a car chugs through the street and leaves of birches and wild
chestnuts swirl up. In the early evening the heating
clicks. On my walk this morning
I saw late toadstools in the roadside grass.
Iím talking of an event here.
It is October. Your hands have become nearly transparent,
your steps almost lack direction. This your friends say too. And you Ė
a simple soul living in true gentleness Ė
called on them wherever they were.
On Cap Gris Nez I was scarcely able
to distinguish some birds Ė terns, whinchats and wheatears Ė
from the ledge of rock on which they sat.
Trails of dense mist hung off the coast Ė
deposits of limestone, chalk and clay,
sandstone and sand. You read poems in Gaelic, sought linguistic strata
in place names, stranded in Achnasheen.
Barcelona, Belfast, Achnasheen.
Finally you stranded. I often talk with you at present,
in my thoughts. People like us gravitate to people
like us. Hermits, my mother says,
when I come to visit you, I have Belgian beer with me,