Spring in Belfast

By Derek Mahon

Walking among my own this windy morning
in a tide of sunlight between shower and shower,
I resume my old conspiracy with the wet
stone and the unwieldy images of the squinting heart.
Once more, as before, I remember not to forget.

There is a perverse pride in being on the side
of the fallen angels and refusing to get up.
We could all be saved by keeping an eye on the hill
at the top of every street, for there it is,
eternally, if irrelevantly, visible —

but yield instead to the humorous formulae,
the spurious mystery in the knowing nod;
or we keep sullen silence in light and shade,
rehearsing our astute salvations under
the cold gaze of a sanctimonious God.

One part of my mind must learn to know its place.
The things that happen in the kitchen houses
and echoing back streets of this desperate city
should engage more than my casual interest,
exact more interest than my casual pity.


By kind permission of the Estate of Derek Mahon and The Gallery Press, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland from The Poems: 1961-2020 (2021).