“The fish fanciers, sitting by their ponds and gazing
into their depths, were tracing shadows
darker than they understood.” – Rubicon by Tom Holland
Arid – it took twenty years for the word to come.
And what did we expect, creeping that Saturday
down laneways whose leaves were dying into red,
towards the El Dorado of an orchard whispered about,
its apples untasted for years, guarded by a gun?
How near we were to town. How easily lost.
The youngest, last seen years ago, standing asleep,
wedged between three squatters in a phone box.
His eyes, they said, when he opened them, still had
that child’s disappointment at finding his last sweet gone;
suddenly he remembered himself and retreated.
He was a river of words at twelve
and I remember him now, from nowhere,
his life too fierce and frank to be glossed over,
unlike the rest of us, we on the cusp then of knowing
not the taste but the craving for it. So on
we blundered, countryside itching under our collars
until we turned and stumbled into a yard
ringed by trees, their fruit greener than leaves,
huge, monstrous almost. But we had to pick them.
And the house. No gun as frightening
as that abandoned silence, or the comb-teeth
litter of fish we knew we’d seen in books.
Never earth so bare as that dried pond.
Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding, and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.