Poem from:

Quiet in a Quiet House by Richard W. Halperin

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What she’s doing there

Halperin, Richard W.

I look again at a fabulous poem

‘Seagulls’ by Eileen Casey from a

literary event in Clogh Kilkenny

in 2005: in the swirl and suck and uplift

of masses of birds an African man

climbs a hill in Tallaght on a chilly windy day

a shopping centre far below

and the poet wonders

what she’s doing there and what he’s doing there

and thanks to her I wonder what Ireland

the west coast of which came up

from southern Africa

millions of years ago is doing there

and the only here in all these theres

is the Cave of the Winds

which the ancient Greeks

took for granted

as who wouldn’t who lives

pitched provisionally on a small island

and I remember This Island Earth

the title of a kitsch science fiction film

whose three words are as good

as anything in Yeats or Eliot

and my mother not far off

who seemed to know all this

from her birth in Belfast and on and on

through and past her brief life

which she scampered across juggling madly

irresponsibility and responsibility

and so thank you Eileen

and thank you my mother’s genes

and my father’s and Ireland’s

and Africa’s for the helium hilarity

and downward sadness

and how can anyone count

how many years old anything is

or how long it will take the African man

to climb that hill

here I am in a Paris heat wave

in a restaurant on the rue des Carmes

eating a three balls of gelato

with a mint leaf on top

and this is being alive

this is Kubla Khan snapped off

the best thing that ever happened to it.

Copyright  © Richard W. Halperin 2016

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