A world without stone: New and selected poems by Terry McDonagh

By Terry McDonagh

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His father sang from his pew. 59 The Blind Girl The door opened and the tip-tap of the blind girl worked its way through an obstacle course of bar stools to sit beside me. She exchanged words with her stick, mentioned work in passing, but her eyes lit up when she talked of the wonderful scenery in parts of England. 60 A Sense Of Something Lost For Joanna The tongue was a late developer. The question is: what did people do before the great muscle was strong enough to wag? Sign language! But surely the dumb can’t coax prize blouse-buttons to swell and burst down to the ankles?

45 We went to a match on Saturday. The ball went wild and all the players were mad to get home before closing time. We had a sausage on the way to the pub; it was solid and filled our heads with the end of shapes to come. One player fought for a goal that never was, and we both knew of a man who had died without a poem to his name. A friend goes to Clifden to sit among gravestones: wings full of names, people to fly to. Play the joker! the woman whispered before he went down to the seafront. Tales came up off the waves for a high-stool in Dublin.

Rich men arrived home to fresh flowers and women, in pleats, read from the altar. The streets were adorned with stars and dead men and dead women; with wet kisses and aunts who had never kissed a local. Eros was out there in the fields among the cattle. To walk behind a cherished woman was as sinful as the chocolate skin of a belly-dancer. Boys and girls knew each other; the priest was the stranger. Proud men left and proud women stayed. They hung on to bits of cloud and dreams that often left them: till death do us part.

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