Two Poems

Michael Longley

Wooden Hare

Sarah drew a hare under a sky full of large stars
When she was ten: now, more than a childhood later,
In antique Paraty where the sea seeps up the street
Depositing between boulder-sized cobbles sand
And the feathers of snowy egrets and frigate birds,
We meet the hare again, an ‘indigenous artefact’,
And want to know everything about the animal,
Its crouching body carved out of cajeto, ears
Slotted into the skull, the unexpected markings
(Blotches of butum oil) that represent leaf-shadows
Or are they stars fallen through the forest canopy?
Dare we buy it and bring it back home to Ireland,
The hare in Sarah’s picture, the Mato Grosso hare?
Its eyes are made from beeswax and mother-of-pearl.

Helen’s Monkey

You saw the exhaust and inlet ports as ears,
The hole for measuring Top Dead Centre
(Piston-timing) as a nose, making the eyes
Valve-inspection covers (no longer there).
It took time, Helen, for the monkey’s skull
(The cylinder head from a twenties Blackburn)
To find a body: it sat on the windowsill
Through a long evolutionary autumn
Until you came across the unimaginable –
The frame of a motorbike (and a side-car’s)
Hidden by snow and heather up a hill
Near Ullapool, a twenties Blackburn of course,
Skeleton recognising skull, and soul
A monkey’s soul amalgamated with yours.