With rivers of steam shivering past our soles
we knew this was a moment to be caught,
waves shimmering and lapping at toes,
nature’s consolation for the day’s earlier rainfall:
I wanted to lie down and drown in this stream,
feel the energy glide over me.
The afternoon sun dried out the ground
to make a dancing tarmacadam track;
bituminous spirits released in a fog,
unlocked and rising just for us, today.
Nature sedating us, hypnotic barbitone.
That day, we were both looking for a sign,
knew that this drying out meant something;
both soaked from having strolled in a shower
with an umbrella for one, your hair not too bad
my inappropriate jumper drenched.
Each needing to drop off steam on this path,
Stepping away from the rain of barbituric pasts.
No rivers will float away our malonic sadness,
needing a wind to move our pain:
but the steam will rise until we are dry,
dry of our pasts and into the future unknown.
Ormeau Baths Gallery
“I’ll be here till I die, creeping alone genteel roads, on a stranger’s bike.”
- Samuel Beckett, letter to George Reavey, 8 Oct 1932
We bathed, yet may not bathe again
Until supple bestowers give
Down their purse to relieve our pain
And copper lives in which we live;
For lifetimes bided in the stew
Of poor silence, in the dark brink,
Are rarely gilded, and the few
That do are well to even think.
We live through work, our hands for guides
To scintillate a sight onto
The common canvas of our hides,
Our makeshift skin scored through and through;
So let us praise this noble lore
That helps to mark our hardy sands,
Counting the days while minds implore
To take their lives out from tied hands.
Cords may dry out, wither and die,
Our breath may creep down genteel roads
Bypassing cold, old strangers’ eyes
Out of reach from most liberal goads,
Yet I swear this: we will bathe again
In waters flowing fast and free;
In here, our life’s pursuit remains:
Our house is safe in memory.
It was your great grandfather
and an aunt, or a mother,
somewhere on the fringe of nowhere:
a shed for a house and
smiles of pride for the camera.
‘Pioneer’ was my word, not yours:
a term equal to respect
from hard-living; a home carved
into the colourless dustbowl
before any generation knew of comfort.
For you, it was an intimate link
to your birthplace, Australia on top
of a bookcase full of Ireland,
both of their poets speaking so much
of soil and farming and the reward of grath.
As I took of you, I took of
your country too, tilling the grooves
of memory and legend, in a tiny
two-bedroom terrace that knew nothing
of gardens or the curse of rain.