Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Wood Road by Seamus Heaney


The Wood Road

Resurfaced, never widened,
The verges grassy as when
Bill Pickering lay with his gun
Under the summer hedge
Nightwatching, in uniform—

Special militiaman.

Moonlight on rifle barrels,
On the windscreen of a van
Roadblocking the road,
The rest of his staunch patrol
In profile, sentry-loyal,

Harassing Mulhollandstown.

Or me in broad daylight
On top of a cartload
Of turf built trig and tight,
Looked up to, looking down,
Allowed the reins like an adult

As the old cart rocked and rollicked.

Then that August day I walked it
“To the hunger striker’s wake,
Across a silent yard,
In past a watching crowd
To where the guarded corpse

And a guard of honour stared.

Or the stain at the end of the lane
Where the child on her bike was hit
By a speed-merchant from nowhere
Hard-rounding the corner,
A back wheel spinning in sunshine,

A headlamp in smithereens.

Film it in sepia,
Drip-paint it in blood,
The Wood Road as is and was,
Resurfaced, never widened,
The milk-churn deck and the sign

For the bus-stop overgrown.


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