Your farm had been by the sea, that was all
you said of it. And here were trees and fuchsia
hedges, the sea elusive—
closer than this, it seemed from the hill—
and invisible again. Alongside, a stream
shaded by plants that wouldn’t thrive
in brine: willowy, but with stamina for wind,
and thickets that smelled of salt, sifting the krill
of insect life,
pipits and sedge warblers, the summer pollens.
As I coasted fast on my bike, a pure white bird—
a heron or spoonbill?—struck out from the water,
legs slack, wings
pursuing downstream, into the intricate greenness.
I braked, my neck thrust out
in the same stunned momentum as the thing
I’d ambushed. Then silence; the sediment of wonder.
Did you live here and hardly speak of it?
I followed your sparse guidance, one sentence that unraveled
over farms by the sea in Kilcoe;
then I found the sea, cornflower blue, at the end
of a pasture that I crossed; a castle
on the headland, its upper rooms fluent with grass
the wind blew unremittingly.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 9 Number 4, on page 46
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