Poem of the week: A Mighty Presence

A new work by Chris Agee

Poet Chris Agee. Photograph: Moya Nolan

Poet Chris Agee. Photograph: Moya Nolan


On the morning of Ciaran Carson’s funeral, a fly was crawling
above my bed, across the wired window, the same fly
that buzzed so bothersomely in her living room
the last time I spoke with Helen Lewis about|
life after Auschwitz …
      To kill or not
to kill! Best to leave be, bee or fly, wandering aimlessly, it
might just appear, across the wintry whitened sky
first towards, then under, the final arras,
the patterned undrawn curtain, the cloud of death …
      Then back!: criss-crossing again, like the work
itself, or “many memories,” the little panes of this lucent grid
like the graph paper I used for class notes in Aix
once-upon-a-time, my land of madeleine,
onwards in mind …
      Absent from the mass,
we will end, or be, in aftermath, more connected
by On the Night Watch and Next to Nothing
about which, apropos this last (text), a work-in-progress
still provisional, in an old Belfast second-hand bookshop

Echoing Smithfield Market, blasted to confetti,
glancing up from the book in hand, a pause
behind glasses, he looked at me straight
for the first-and-all, and quipped correctly:
      good title!

After Yom Kippur
October 10th, 2019

Chris Agee is a poet, essayist, photographer and editor. His most recent collection is Blue Sandbar Moon. His collection, Next to Nothing, was shortlisted for the 2009 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.