Poem of the week this week comes from Michael Longley’s The Stairwell, published by Cape. The Stairwell was shortlisted for the 2014 T. S. Eliot Prize. You can hear Michael reading from this collection here.

‘The Birthday’

This is our first birthday without you,
My twin, July the twenty-seventh.
Where are you now? I’m looking out for you.
Have you been skinny-dipping at Allaran
Where the jellies won’t sting, or in the lake
Among the reeds and damsel flies, sandwort
Stars at your feet, grass of parnassus in bud?
This year the residential swans have cygnets,
Four of them. They won’t mind you splashing,
Nor will the sandpipers eyeing Dooaghtry
For a nesting place among the pebbles
At the samphire line. Now you know the spot.
Choughs flock high above their acrobatic
Cliff face and call to you antiquated
Expletives pshaw pshaw pshaw. Again and
Again I mention the erratic boulder
Because so much happens there, five hares
In the morning, then a squiggle of stoats.
I’ve boiled organic beetroots for supper.
Will your pee be pink in heaven? Oh,
The infinite gradations of sunset here.
Thank you for visiting Carrigskeewaun.
Don’t twist your ankle in a rabbit hole.
I’ll carry the torch across the duach.