Poem of the week: Before It Happened
Bernard Loughlin, who ran the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig in Co Monaghan from 1981 to 1999
In memory of Bernard Loughlin
One afternoon a friend from the Falls and I
Drove out of Sligo into Enniskillen
For a quiet drink among old lamps and mirrors,
The glancing talk conspiratorial
As wives at the half-doors, silences freighted,
Lamplight pooled with sunlight on the polished bar,
The street outside a cleared-out Control Zone.
Across the street and up the narrow stair,
In a room with spring light swimming in the windows,
Fine as lace and firm as Blake’s engravings,
The paintings of a dozen Irish wildflowers,
One after one, hung cleanly on the wall.
My friend the country walker, botanizer
Reared in the gutted streets of West Belfast,
Called every one by name from memory.
Bogbean, pipewort, grass of Parnassus,
Harebell looking so fragile it might tatter
In a breeze, yet stubborn as the stone ones
High on the capitals at Corcomroe.
We came downstairs into the slant of evening
And drove away in the unmolesting dark.
As we left behind the small lights of the town,
The voice at the wheel was naming constellations,
Orion, Cassiopeia, where they wavered
At first, then spread their nets of stars in the night wind.
Gibbons Ruark’s books of poems include Passing Through Customs: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press ); Staying Blue ( Lost Hills Books ) and The Road to Ballyvaughan ( Jacar Press ). He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.