Derek Coyle

An April Beatitude

At this hour of the game,

my hair thinning

 

while I am not,

I should say that I’m glad

 

I’m alive now, and that I’m not

some Mesolithic huntsman

 

stalking Sika deer with a bow and arrow

I slaved to make myself. Instead,

 

I turn to my fridge for hummus

and soya milk, and see the best of Irish beef,

 

ready to be stir-fried, happy

I have forsaken the peasant pleasures

 

of Irish stew. Still,

its cellophane-wrapped packaging

 

troubles something of the primal huntsman

in me even as I close the door

 

to take in the shelves of books still to read:

The True History of Tea, Why Nations Fail,

 

Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities.

This roof over my head I call mine,

 

a comfy sofa, a reading lamp,

and you, curled up asleep in a bed upstairs

 

as it is early this fresh spring morning,

all make me glad that I’m not

 

a male coin spider chewing off

my own genitals after you-know-what...

For Wendell Berry

I have never taken to the plough,

sowing potatoes or tomatoes.

 

I’ve rarely enough sowed anything

—barley, African marigolds, an oak—

 

not since childhood in the village,

with the Scouts or Tidy Towns.

 

I’ve worked in the classroom,

a teacher whose greatest lesson

 

is to realize you don’t know much,

even as you detect the Romantic sensibility

 

in a Turner, or abstraction

in the shapes of Van Gogh

 

(signs of Rothko still to come),

or you can hear Mahler hide

 

in the spaces opened up by Beethoven.

Yet, as I fall slowly into what you call

 

the fund of things, my blood and guts

fertilizer to all that hides in the shadows—

 

when the cold sun shines that day,

as nephews and nieces, friends and family,

 

gather to mark in hot grief my passing,

I hope that I too will have served the light,

 

having fostered regard

for the beauty in all we’ve made,

 

at the heart of our darkness,

in what we call civilization.

Derek Coyle published his first collection, Reading John Ashbery in Costa Coffee Carlow in a dual-language edition in Tranas Sweden and Carlow Ireland in April 2019, and it was shortlisted for the Shine Strong 2020 poetry award. He is a founding member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative. He lectures in Carlow College/St Patrick’s, Ireland.

 

 

Derek Coyle has published poems in The Irish Times, Irish Pages, The Texas Literary Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Orbis, Skylight 47, Assaracus, and The Stony Thursday Book.

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