ITíS THOSE NOVEMBER DAYSÖ
for Cliodhna S.
All right, I didnít write to you that I was coming.
I couldnít. Itís those November days, Cliodhna.
You were out of town, at some uncleís in Mayo
who I didnít know. If youíd been at home,
would we have met each other? At Doganís,
at The Stagís Head? There
the excess 18th century wood could have deadened our voices,
and who knows, our memory. Do you still have the photo
of me with my arms round you? Full tables, empty plates;
empty glasses, exhausted, laughing faces. All the
venues, the chaotic days, the night-time intimacies ? I can
no longer recall them. So much has changed,
too, so much has changed.
We were too reckless. In the afternoon
we got up and walked, cowering in heavy coats, over the Haípenny Bridge
into the city centre. Always exhausted, always laughing. We drank too much.
Now Iím on the other side,
leaning against the facades of Wellington Quay, one leg lifted,
supporting myself with the sole of my foot against the brick wall.
Evening has come. The water of the city flows black as stout.
Heavy lorries thunder past. The rain
falls like needles into the Liffey. Drops sidle down
my glasses. And that one sentence -
She should have beaten me to death
keeps going through my head.
Youíre not home. There are no lights on in apartment five.
The rose bush we planted
stands neglected on the terrace. A noisy group of young people
approach. I move on -
just once more, out the door, along the Winding Stairs,
on until Woollen Mills, then over the bridge,
past the wrought-iron fence, the lampposts, the beggars,
into the city centre. The heart beats in the centre,
you said. I recall too much,
these November days. Everything becomes familiar,
returns, repeats itself. The rubbish on the pavement,
Guinness Is Good For You, the rain
that makes us scurry into the station in Tara Street. At Landsdowne Road
I remember you playing rounders, you among the girls,
at Sandymount, how you stand under the shower,
at Sydney Parade, your navel, your bush, your armpit hair,
at Booterstown, your bed, your sofa, how soundly you sleep, at Blackrock,
how you wave with your hands, at Seapoint
that I leave you in the middle of the night. At Monkstown
I get off. In the dark a dog barks
as it pelts after the train.