Here in the din
with the click clack of cutlery
within a cacophony of voices.
The barmen pulling pints
in their starched whites,
guides to the oak portals,
the long line of whiskey bottles
standing like sentinels in that place without time.
There’s a portrait of Yeats on the wall,
calling to mind many in the long line of authors
backs bent to the point of inspiration,
wading in this eternal position.
In these watering holes in Ireland
I can begin to frame my goodbye.
For the time finished wandering
the crooked streets of late afternoon
full cup of tea content
writing until fingers tire,
talking to other travelers till all hours
or until they are no longer strangers,
walking that fine wire,
feeling your soles wearing thin,
travel integral, your soul chiming in
with another proposition.
I recall every decision
punctuated by a heron,
coming at such a moment
you no longer question which direction.
There was the one in the stream side tea garden in Doolin,
awash with meaning,
the water gleaming
beneath the gracefully bent pencil legs
balanced over all that was witnessed alone;
the sea beneath the cliff walk to Liscannor,
Foley’s Glen and the position of stones
marking Scotia’s fall,
the hole of sorrow seen through Poulnabrone portal,
laying another echoing farewell on the long way home
but not before a moment’s recognition at Carraroe,
where a bus to the end of the line
puts me in just the position
to catch it out of the corner of my eye,
the ascending blue wings
gathering in the horizon,
flying over low hills and stone-walled fields.
The bogs of last goodbye well up suddenly
to cry uncontrollably
in the profound recognition of its significance,
the seeming interconnectedness of life
and what resides within and all around us.
Birds once again bearing this message.
In Hawaii, it is from the beaks of the Shama Thrush
on the lush mountain trails of the old Pali.
In Italy, you decipher the sweep of the swallows
from the bell towers and hidden hollows
of some medieval square.
You hear the sudden call of the white breasted hawk
on a winter’s highway to Becky’s,
perched in a dying tree
or on a driftwood log
you see the ravens of Sombrio and Ocean Beach
and follow them to breach that other world.
Here in Ireland it is through the blue herons.
in the spring bogs of Doolin, Kinsale and the Connemara Coast
relating to the unseen
perhaps the most meaningful thing to develop
as it nourishes beyond what we think or comprehend,
put down in ink or apprehend in words,
bound to fall short in forming this farewell,
it becomes just another footnote,
one more point of departure.