Three Poems

Ian Hamilton


If you were to look up now you would see
The moon, the cars, the ambulance,
The elevated road back into town.
                                                     The river weeds
You crouch in seem a yard shorter,
A shade more featherishly purple
Than they were this time last year;
The caverns of ‘your bridge’
Less brilliantly jet black than I remember them.

Even from up here, though, I can tell
It’s the same unfathomable prayer:
If you were to look up now would you see
Your moon-man swimming through the moonlit air?


Yes, I suppose you taught us something.
That bottle-green, priest’s dressing-gown,
For instance, that they tried to tog you up in
For your last overnight at the Infirmary.
‘My Celtic shroud’, you called it
And when no one laughed: ‘Before morning
Your dear daddy will be Ibrox blue.’

The Forties

‘The self that has survived those trashy years’
Its ‘austere virtue’ magically intact. Well then,
He must have asked himself, is this
The ‘this is it’; that encapsulate Life
I never thought to find
And didn’t seek: beginning at the middle
So that in the end
The damage is outlived by the repair?

At forty-five
I’m father of the house now and at dusk
You’ll see me take my ‘evening stroll’
Down to the dozing lily-pond:
From our rear deck, one hundred and eleven yards.
And there I’ll pause, half-sober, without pain
And seem to listen; but no longer ‘listen out’.
And at my back,
Eight windows, a verandah, the neat plot
For your (why not?) ‘organic greens’,
The trellis that needs fixing, that I’ll fix.