Room to Rhyme

Michael Longley

in memory of Seamus Heaney

I

I blew a kiss across the stage to you
When we read our poems in Lisdoonvarna
Two weeks before you died. Arrayed in straw
The Armagh Rhymers turned up at the end.

II

In the middle of a field in Mourne country
Standing side by side, looking straight ahead
We peed against a fragment of stone wall,
St Patrick’s windbreak, the rain’s urinal.

III

On our pilgrimages around the North
In your muddy Volkswagen, we chanted
Great War songs: Hush! Here comes a whizz-bang!
We’re here because we’re here because we’re …

IV

Smashed after Room to Rhyme in Cushendall
We waded through heather-stands to Fair Head
And signed our names in biro on Davy’s shirt
And launched it off the cliff into the wind.

V

We drove after Bloody Sunday to join
The Newry March – road blocks, diversions –
Time enough to decide, if we were asked
At gunpoint: And what religion are you?

VI

When Oisín Ferran was burned to death, you
Stood helpless in the morgue and wept and wept.
Awaken from your loamy single-bed:
Kiss me on the lips in Lisdoonvarna.