The mornings work – prepping a talk for next week – was more or less done.Emails dealt with, this evening’s work planned and so – a few minutes tidying the bathroom. Ten minutes at the most – a quick sweep, wipe down, swift rearrangement of the towels and then, wait, those books – they don’t all have to stay on the shelf, do they? No, this can go and that too, and those. All away to the charity shop. Except, what are these – three slim volumes of poetry, one with an unfamiliar cover – Poems from the Persian, translated by Edward G Browne. Maybe a quick look: ” Of thy favour, Cup-bearer, fill me up that clear and crystalline bowl…” I put down the seat of the lavatory and flick through the index: Al Rumi is here. And Avicenna. For later.
The next slim volume is The Rainmakers by Francis Harvey. Francis Harvey lives in Donegal town and my favourite poem of his is the Heron. It won the Guardian prize a long time ago. It’s requested so often that, he told me, he almost got to hate it. It’s not in this collection – I checked. But there are plenty others – A Roofless Cottage near the Horse Glen at Twilight, A Soft Day and Elegy for the Islanders: ” They died elsewhere but their graves are here/and these bare gables are their headstones…”
And then, ah, Paula Meehan’s Mysteries of the Home and comes with a dedication to the traveller. Precious.
I open the book, knowing the one to look for:
“Would you jump into my grave as quick?
my granny would ask when one of us took
her chair by the fire. You, woman,
done up to the nines, red lips a come on,
your breath reeking of drink
And your black eye on my man tonight
in a Dublin bar, think
first of the steep drop, and the six dark feet.”
Good woman, Paula, as long as I’m never the one in the bar with the red lips.