E2-E4

by Ted McCarthy

We were so far from being different.
The world, if it had cared
to look, would have seen itself reflected
in everything we said,
two kids walking through a wind
that blew across the cold harbour
of our minds, the little we’d read.

It was the first move, the E2-E4
of a game that made the table
of our lives so soon unrecognisable,
random pieces, trees after a fire.
The music I listen to now has no words,
a music of absence, a hunger stilled
in the endless back-humming of two chords:

it is our conversations looped
round each other, so that beginning
and end are one. The cold that crept
into our bones, made our ears sing,
is there somewhere, a wire, a spine,
the still-felt jab of teenage pain.
Your being gone is a calcine in the fingers,

a lack of suppleness; no age
brings it; it is the knowledge
bought with the bite of a discarded
fruit. How many boys since
have walked our street, talked big, scared
of the truth in a sudden silence?
A quiet hour it must be on that ridge

chosen for you to wait out
eternity. No storm will find you
for a million years after the last trumpet,
beyond your bones you will forever
be that adolescent, bewildered
by the pattern of the lives you knew
and a far-off rhythm like snakes in your feet.

 

Ted McCarthy 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, and he has had two collections published, November Wedding, and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com

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