The Irish Hermits

Snatches of your keen-witted lines
are drifting down
the tide of time

I can see them nest like fog
in the broken shells
of your beehive huts

they make me want to share with you
the gorse beside the lake, the yellowness
of the blackbird's beak when the bell of its song

is calling to prayer
where the sunlight breaks in
through stained-leaf windows

but a million breezes
have worn away deserted clochans
eating them crumb by crumb

the pen of time
has written a "no"
in mossy letters upon their stones

you are a round-tower locked long ago
mirrored in the lake, and I know by now
that I could not reach you by jumping in

so all I can do is stare at the surface
like a child in front of the window
of a closed toymaker's shop.

1994