And this poem wiggled its way to the surface on this Dia de los Muertos, appropriately I suppose.

Mid-Term Break

By Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home.


In the porch I met my father crying—
He had always taken funerals in his stride—
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.


The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand


And tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble’.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand


In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.


Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,


Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.


A four-foot box, a foot for every year.


Such a sad poem, and one that solidified for me early on my admiration for Heaney as a powerful writer. The image for this post has absolutely nothing to do with the poem; it’s more Mexican than Irish. Hope that’s ok. It’s my mood, after all.
And here’s Heaney reading it.

© 2015 – 2016, Brian Stumbaugh. All rights reserved.