The Golf Years

Raymond Friel

Out on the back nine, beyond the banter,
we’d be stopped on the elevated tees
by a sunset of epic proportions,
or, down in the firth, the fin of a sub –
its black body packed with catastrophe –
heading for its ‘home’ in the Holy Loch.

He was working shifts in Hunterston
and after the long silence of the coast road
came home to the early morning bedlam
of full-cream moustaches and ties in knots,
still wearing the blue ‘badge’ on his lapel
to signal what no human should endure.

After the glass-enclosed, sterile nights
observing the secret life of reactors –
to colleagues a dogged apologist
for the unscientific dogmas of his faith
over coffee cups and books for reference –
the golf course was a paradise of sorts,

with its view across the Firth of Clyde
to the stern assembly of the Trossachs,
the soft carpet rolled out under our feet,
his Nicklaus crouch on the final green.
I lifted the flag up and clear as the ball
read the dips perfectly and rattled home.