Thomas Kinsella

Soundings Index

Mirror in February

 The day dawns with scent of must and rain,
 Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
 Under the fading lamp, half dressed - my brain
 Idling on some compulsive fantasy-
 I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
 Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
 A dry downturning mouth.

 It seems again that it is time to learn,
 In this untiring, crumbling place of growth
 To which, for the time being, I return.
 Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
 I read that I have looked my last on youth
 And little more; for they are not made whole
 That reach the age of Christ.

 Below my window the awakening trees,
 Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
 Suffering their brute necessities,
 And how should the flesh not quail that span for span
 Is mutilated more? In slow distaste
 I fold my towel with what grace I can,
 Not young and not renewable, but man.

Another September

 Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
 With the touch of the dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
 Hears through an open window the garden draw
 Long pitch black breaths, lay bare its apple trees,
 Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweetened soil,
 Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
 Nearer the river sleeps St. John's, all toil
 Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

 Domestic Autumn, like an animal
 Long used to handling by those countrymen,
 Rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
 Sensing a fragrant child come back again
 - Not this half-tolerated consciousness
 That plants its grammar in her yielding weather
 But that unspeaking daughter, growing less
 Familiar where we fell asleep together.

 Wakeful moth wings blunder near a chair,
 Toss their light shell at the glass, and go
 To inhabit the living starlight. Stranded hair
 Stirs on still linen. It is as though
 The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
 Drugged under judgement, waned and - bearing daggers
 And balances--down the lampless darkness they came,
 Moving like women : Justice, Truth, such figures.

Soundings Index