Poem of the day

The Wood Road

by Seamus Heaney

Resurfaced, never widened.

The verges grassy as when

Bill Pickering lay with his gun

Under the summer hedge

Nightwatching, in uniform –

 

Special militiaman.

 

Moonlight on rifle barrels,

On the windscreen of a van

Roadblocking the road,

The rest of his patrol

Sentry-still, in profile,

 

Guarding Mulhollandstown.

 

Or me in broad daylight

On top of a cartload

Of turf hand-built and squat

As a drystone beehive hut,

Looked up to, looking down,

 

Allowed the reins like an adult –

 

In the picture at last,

The one on the whitewashed wall

Of a horse and cart and turfman

Embroidered on calico

In what they called ‘the long ago’,

 

Framed in passe-par-tout.

 

Or that August day I walked it

To the hunger striker’s wake,

Across a silent yard,

In past a watching crowd

To where the guarded corpse

 

And a guard of honour stared.

 

Film it in sepia,

Drip-paint it in blood,

This was/is the Wood Road.

Resurfaced, never widened,

The milk-can deck and the sign

 

For the bus-stop overgrown.

10 August

Bloodstream

by Sally Festing

The walls are very thin up here, sky, birds -

I'd grab if I could their Norfolk idiom

stuff it in my pocket to trickle out

and listen in. The sun floods rectangles

into the room and I’m imagining

you now at the RA, your face raised

to Anish Kapor's hovering wall-full.

Think of a big yellow belly button!

 

I woke and heard your feet pad from Whitehall

to Picadilly. Remember? we'd glut

our eyes, then head for coffee. You'll like the blood

slugged at white space, the great rope of it circling

far into the future. Oh my darling

these birds tear heart and soul out of thin air.