Paddy Bushe was born in Dublin in 1948, and now lives in Kerry on
the west coast of Ireland. He writes in both Irish and English, and
has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which
is To Ring in Silence: New and Selected Poems (Dedalus 2008), a
bilingual volume. He has also published three books of translation,
from Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Chinese. He is a member of Aosdána,
the Irish academy of writers and artists.
You're only gone to Dingle, overnight
That's all, but the abrupt gale-driven sleet
On the window hammers that absence home
When you make no shape against the clock's
Lit figures, and I cannot smell your hair.
Awake now, reassured, I click the luxury
Of an undisturbing bedside light to read,
And to quickly lever out the nail that drove
Itself slyly home, that other - at sixty,
It does cross the mind - utter absence.
New Moon over Nepal
Over Himalayan foothills, on a scale
Inconceivable at home, a sickle moon rises
And edges itself against the grain of stars.
In the valleys, fluttering over the blue
Corrugated roofs, postered on flaking walls
Or sloganed in roadblocks and marches,
The hammer and sickle rises, on a scale
Inconceivable at home, and a king bows out
Amid talk of Maoist votes, and landslides.
The Himalayan summits, which have seen
The other side of all of this before,
Feel their snow gather itself, and stiffen.
And they hold their breath, and listen,
Stock still, in the high, white silence.
Organ Recital, Norwich Cathedral
for John and Hilary Wakeman
The organ-pipes, sunstruck by the last rays
Through the high cathedral windows, beamed
Beyond sin or sanctity, radiating around
Arches, colonnades and flowering vaults.
And, secular with sacred, Latinate
With vernacular, the music moved
Eternally within the walls. Bede's sparrow
Would have flown in and never left.
And most vernacular of all, the organ-screen,
Arched high between the nave and choir,
Came down to earth on the digital screen
Where the organist's fingers spread wide
Over keyboards, and bellows and stops.
How digital and screen revelled in all this,
This playing hide-and-seek with meaning,
This waltz, this benedictus de profundis!
And for no reason except all this, I recalled
That afternoon's walk through the low arch
Into the herb garden, close by the cathedral,
Its sunny lines of aromatic, curative paths
Notated by bees, who'd pulled out all the stops,
Swelling digitalis into passages of fairy fingers,
Worts, sorrels, balms and alliums falling over
Themselves, dying to be useful again.
When fog freezes around heart's landscape
And stops the veins and wells, and drains
The colour from everything that grows,
Oh then heart must kernel its sweet self
In hiding from the hooded crow, and wait
For hints of sap. Then thaw. Then flow.
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