For Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney has been very much on my mind of late. Today is the third anniversary of his death and I miss him with a passion. He was there for me when I really needed him ~ in the aftermath of my mother’s death ~ reading with that wonderful voice of his at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2009.

It’s strange how there can be people who never know what a mark they have left on a life. I never spoke to Seamus Heaney but he spoke to me through his poetry and humanity.

Tonight, as I read through some of his poems, I feel even more blessed than ever to be among those who have shared this world and country with him.

How do you say ‘thank you’ to someone who has died? I wish I knew the answer to that but, for now this is the nearest I can come to it.

Rest in Peace,  dear man, and I hope you have feasted on some glistening blackberries this late August day.

BLACKBERRY -PICKING

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

(Seamus Heaney 1939-2013)

blackberries