Patrick Kavanagh

Art McCooey

I recover now the time I drove Cart-loads of dung to an outlying farm – My foreign possessions in Shancoduff – With the enthusiasm of a man who sees life simply. The steam rising from the load is still Warm enough to thaw my frosty fingers. In Donnybrook in Dublin ten years later I see that empire now and the empire builder. Sometimes meeting a neighbour In country love-enchantment, The old mare pulls over to the bank and leaves us To fiddle folly where November dances. We wove our disappointments and successes To patterns of a town-bred logic: ‘She might have been sick…’ ‘No, never before, A mystery, Pat, and they all appear so modest.’ We exchanged our fool advices back and forth: ‘It easily could be their cow was calving, And sure the rain was desperate that night…’ Somewhere in the mists a light was laughing. We played with the frilly edges of reality While we puffed our cigarettes; And sometimes Owney Martin’s splitting yell Would knife the dreamer that the land begets. ‘I’ll see you after Second Mass on Sunday.’ ‘Right-o, right-o.’ The mare moves on again. A wheel rides over a heap of gravel And the mare goes skew-ways like a blinded hen. Down the lane-way of the popular banshees By Paddy Bradley’s; mud to the ankles; A hare is grazing in Mat Rooney’s meadow; Maggie Byrne is prowling for dead branches. Ten loads before tea-time. Was that the laughter Of the evening bursting school? The sun sinks low and large behind the hills of Cavan, A stormy-looking sunset. ‘Brave and cool.’ Wash out the cart with a bucket of water and a wangel Of wheaten straw. Jupiter looks down. Unlearnedly and unreasonably poetry is shaped, Awkwardly but alive in the unmeasured womb.

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