Seamus Heaney’s Grave

I visited Heaney’s grave with my friend last week. First, we went to The Homeplace, the arts centre in Bellaghy that celebrates his poetry. I’d been before and I love it. Loved seeing how a poem moves through multiple iterations of scoring and scribbles and shifting around before he gets to something he’s happy with. Loved seeing his old duffle coat hanging in a glass cabinet – hadn’t known it was made from suede, must have weighed a tonne, taken ages to dry when he got caught out in a downpour. Loved all those photographs of people and places and items he had written about. Loved the ice-cream I had as I wandered down the street towards St. Mary’s to stand by his plot. Loved how few people were about on a Monday evening in the middle of summer and the drivers that lifted a palm from the wheel to acknowledge the strangers. Loved how unremarkable it all was, this wee place in mid-Ulster that you would never have imagined had so much to say for itself, or that someone had so much to say about it. Loved the slow of pace of everything and how I got stuck behind a herd of crossing cattle on my way home. Loved that it moved me to write a poem about it all.

At Rest
	St Mary’s Graveyard, Bellaghy

Under a tree,
cast apart
from other plots –
though close enough
to hear and see
who’s coming up
the gravel walk –

we fall silent
for prayer.
In that moment
a truck’s horn
sounds, blasting
loud and long,
roping through

hawthorn hedges,
ivy, privet,
thrumming his
headstone,
seeping into
sycamore leaves
until that urgent,

given note
falls silent,
and the sky
expands, the air
vibrates with
life wrapped in
death wrapped in

life, layers of
pass-the-parcel
every hand will
someday touch
to mute our
words and voices–
but not his.

Evening sun
shines and bees
and butterflies
alight on
sagging blooms
of late-spent
summer buddleia.

Cows stop
me at Lislea.
I cut the engine,
watch them shuffle
off for milking.
I feel at rest
on close of day.

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