Alcock and Brown


for Joe and Sarah

Under a sky agleam with frosty stars

or with nothing but Atlantic cloud as camouflage

they followed their flight-path,

that real Sky Road between take-off and touch-down.

In Connemara, they appeared like exhausted swimmers

or pilgrims who had come a long way

from beyond the beyond, to Derrygimlagh’s

bare bog stillness, loose ground – not quite terra firma.

No applause, no watching witness, the people gone

to Sunday prayers, when Alcock and Brown

found by luck, by chance, by accident their landing spot –

their Illyria of Irish earth, a landscape with the sound turned off.

Last Years

In those last years of fading vision

she lived by the sea, hitched to a chair

in front of a vista of inlet and promontory

and off in the distance, the long peninsula –

Cooley and Carlingford,

the Celtic mountain or its misty similitude,

boats leaving the harbour, no sooner seen

than disappearing from her known world.

When she put away her book of folded corners

to look yonder, her eyes, half-blind,

were held in thrall by the pitch and toss

of the quicksilver tides come and gone

like the errand boy who climbed the hill

to her open door where the wind blew in

with a bang that even her deaf ear heard.