Though there is the cracked bedroom ceiling
and the scraping front gate,
we give precedence to restoring the garden seat.
It mends us in return. Where flowers
grow or die, how generously the sun shines,
what the whitebeam whispers
and the ivy greening the back wall
hides, are little to do with our restoration,
yet they are all. Seasons swap the weather
about, blend, break, follow;
life’s freshet of sensualities
never quite runs out. Two children claim us
as belonging to them. Their hands
tug at our heartstrings and ankles. They gather
the nature of our garden seat,
how its flakes of rusting wrought iron
allow the earwig in, how lustrous raindrops
sliding off its glossed wood
pave a path for mildew. Our children grow
into ambits of their own, only
to come back, with each time a caught breath
that must belong to us –
as when the full moon stands,
sudden and transformative at a kitchen window.
Quiet again in the evenings
spent alone together, we look each other
full frontally in the eye
when we speak, and touch off old affection.
Children at WoodlawnOur thoughts jump ahead of us to the dark.
We are led by a candle that tilts,
its flame cuffed by tiny, side-swipe blows.
Along corridors, in and out of cubby-holes
we ghost, while about us surfaces
slide, stretch, form ellipses. We twist corks
off bottles until they squeak or pop, tinkle
our fingers in crystal bowls, open
hoarse cabinet cupboards where jellies set
and apples season. Midnight is to our taste.
Here we parade old-style clothes,
gulp shivers, drown in silver pools of mirrors,
wrestle with wallpaper patterns
of thorn and ivied mansion. Once, ages ago,
fork lightning struck, frenzying us
all the short distance to the thunder.
We don’t say the truth’s clear-cut; or: no use
in being a fool unless you show it;
or: I am given to dreams but what the world
and its mother asks for is a sight
more substantial. We don’t say we are afraid.
Patrick Deeley has published seven collections of poems with Dedalus Press, the latest being The End of the World. In 2019 he received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Groundswell: New and Selected. He has also published a memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, with Transworld, and a number of books for children. He was born in County Galway and currently lives in Dublin.