Elegy for Molly McCabe, a new poem by Cathal McCabe

 

Listen again to the sound of childhood:
Your father below, late at night, in the bar
Then, all locked up, the sound of rain.
Dream, like any young girl, of love…
A woman, then, dream… of a road not taken
(For Love and His children were not meant to be).

So Love and His children were not meant to be!
Listen again to the sounds of childhood.
And smell its smells. Guinness and bacon.
Cabbage and tea. The gents between the kitchen and bar
(That corridor your daily commute - your labour of love.
For what? For something glimpsed through falling rain?).

In the beginning was the Irish rain.
And ever would be. Rain without end. (That, too, meant to be.)
Then, in between showers, the sun’s brief love...
Listen again to the sound of childhood:
Your mother below, late at night, in the bar.
Or maybe you’re mistaken,

Maybe it’s the hall door, shaken
By the wind, and rapped on by the rain?
Through a frosted pane, where you sit in the bar,
The sun or the shower that was meant to be…
Listen again to the sound of childhood.
Listen again for the sound of love…

Where did he go, your wartime love,
Handsome, tall, American?
Back to the streets - or fields - of childhood?
Live all your life with a sister and brother - a lifetime of rain -
Telling yourself: It was meant to be.
Telling it how it is, how you are, behind the bar

Or, making their tea, listening out for the bell in the bar.
Do all you can - for them, not for Love
(For Love and His children were not meant to be).
Like all of us, dream… then stir and waken
To ash in the grate and, in the yard, rain…
And listen again to the sound of childhood -

To your father and mother, sister and brother, to Love forsaken -
Love and His children (who were not meant to be) - in the smoke-filled bar
To the sound of rain, to the sound of childhood: listen again.

Cathal McCabe’s new collection, Outer Space: Selected Poems is due from Metre Editions this year