By Eavan Boland

I have a word for it—
the way the surface waited all day
to be a silvery pause between sky and city—
which is elver.

And another one for how
the bay shelved cirrus clouds
piled up at the edge of the Irish Sea,
which is elver too.

The old Blackrock baths
have been neglected now for fifty years,
fine cracks in the tiles
visible as they never were when

I can I can I can
shouted Harry Vernon as
he dived from the highest board
curving down into salt and urine

his cry fading out
through the half century it took
to hear as a child that a glass eel
had been seen

entering the seawater baths at twilight—
also known as elver
and immediately
the word begins

a delicate migration—
a fine crazing healing in the tiles—
the sky deepening above a city
that has always been

unsettled between sluice gates and the Irish Sea
to which there now comes at dusk
a translucent visitor
yearning for the estuary.


"Cityscape", from A WOMAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY: POEMS by Eavan Boland. Copyright © 2014 by Eavan Boland. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"Cityscape" by Eavan Boland, from New Selected Poems. Reproduced with kind permission of Carcanet Press.