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Two Poems

Skylarks in January

None since October,
and now there are four
calling across the clouds,
still dragging a grey hawser

that ends in the sea
after weeks in the links
while the waves poured thunder.
It's an early release

of that high, blinding obsession
with the sun's glare
to make every hill disappear
through the eye of a song

when all love wants—
there in the heather—is a nest,
a few stray notes,
a closer look at that crest.

The Bay of Angels

    for Elizabeth and John Montague

After the first, a second life stares
out here across the Bay of Angels
under the sun's blue eyes. The blue waters
come ashore all day to offer themselves
endlessly in every wave that rises.
Every mane of glass curls before it falls
to a final gesture, a rush of foam
falling back with a sigh from its metronome.

The elemental line was founded here
by the haunted practitioners of art.
They drove these dusty roads in the twenties
where the strict courtesy of a plaque
remembers life as a brilliant gesture.
One time we were happy with this remark
but now we want to follow down the cool
tiling of white steps and enter the pool.

There are few signs of whatever we have been:
a crumpled bathrobe on a ledge, a pair
of sandals left at the edge of a scene,
clues put in discreetly by the painter,
with some pathos in the way they were worn
to indicate the life of the bather,
our only weakness, like Achilles, at the heel,
a mark in leather to prove that this is real.

This coast has its proper tone of feeling;
it has mastered every interference known,
gone through whatever grief or rage could bring
to reach this space with a horizon.
Other stages are spread for suffering
but a mute decorum rules this one.
All it expects of us is that we pay
for time to keep disturbance away.

A tumbling coast with orange and lemon trees
and ancient olives is offered on this basis,
that we have lived enough with pieties,
or at least muddled through in other places
to come here with a harvest of leaves
to look over, admiring the traces
of a path to an archway, a garden, a door,
and the one room we spent years working for.

Seán Lysaght

Carnival Masks
The Gallery Press

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