A Quiet Pint in Kinvara



TSalt-stung, rain-cleared air, deepened as always
By a smudge of turf smoke. Overhead the white glide
Of seagulls, and in the convent beeches above the road,
Hoarse croak of rooks, throaty chatter of jackdaws.
High tide pounds stone wall.
I shut my door behind me and head downhill,

Gait steadied by the broad shouldered gravity
Of houses from the eighteenth or nineteenth century—
Limestone, three storeys, their slate roofs rain-slick,
Aglow with creeper and the green brilliance of mosses.
No force off the Atlantic
Could threaten their angles or budge their masses.

They rise unhurriedly from the strong cellar
And hold a fleshy hand, palm outward, against the sea,
Saying "Land starts here. Go peddle your salt airs elsewhere."
From farms down lanes the meat and milk of pasture,
Root crops and loads of hay,
By hoof or wagon, come down to Kinvara quay.

And so do I—to drink in the presence
Of these presences, these ideas given substance,
Solid as your father's signature
On a letter you unfold sometimes from a quiet drawer,
Yet semi-detached, half free,
Like the road that follows the sea down from Galway,

Curving like a decorated S
Drizzled through a monk's quill plucked from the goose,
Spelling Sanctus onto vellum newly missed by the herd,
In a cell where the soul's damp candle flared—
Roofless now to the weather's
Inundations, while ravens walk the cloisters.

Gloria of martyrdom, kingship's crimson
Are shattered now, buried in mire. The mizzling sky
Darkens unmitigated over thatch collapsed into famine,
Tracks leading nowhere. Absences occupy
The four kingdoms. A wide-eyed
Angel stares uncomprehendingly skyward,

Stone angel of the Island, baptised by rain,
Outlasting Viking longboat, Norman strongbow,
Face battered by a rifle butt. Tough-minded as a bloody saint.
But where was I off to, mind like a darkened window
This dampened afternoon?
To the pub of course. It's time for that quiet pint,

Brewed blacker than ruination, sound
As fresh-hewn timber, strong as a stonecutter's hand.
Make it stout like the roof overhead, to take off the chill
That blows through emptied fields. Let me drink my fill
And more, of that architecture—
Than ease home tight and respectable to dinner.


© 2008 Richard Tillinghast, All Rights Reserved