Monday, November 1

The Grave

Rosie and I went looking for the grandparents' grave last week up in the hills north of the city.
Not as weird as it might seem, for we always talk family when we get together in Belfast.
I've written already about Aunt Helen.
She lived with us until Rosie was born and had a big influence in our lives.
If things were getting tense in the home on a slow Sunday...she would say," right Tish get your coat on girl, we're going up to the grave!!"
This entailed taking two buses and a bit of a walk. She maintained that it would do me good. I was about six or seven.
When we arrived there was always a procedure to go through.
Firstly she would be appalled at the state of the grass around the grave.
" Why do I pay that fella to cut the grass when he doesn't bother. Stay here Lizzie while I go up and give him a bit of my mind"
When back I was instucted to stay put , while she took the dirty water away and the old flowers and brought back fresh.
Each time I was informed that the hedge had been planted by my older brother, and wasn't it growing well?
When all was achieved she called ,"Come on Face, that's all that we can do, lets go home."
Much relief from me.
Do you think we could find the blooming place last week? Not a bit of it . We wandered for a good hour . Then eventually found a hedge and stuck our two roses in it.
It could have been the brother's, but then again maybe not.


I bought Seamus Heaney's new poetry book in Ballymena .
Here are some lines that say all that I could not.

A Herbal
after Guillevic's "herbier de Bretagne"

Everywhere plants
Flourish among graves,

Sinking their roots
In all the dynasties
Of the dead.

Was graveyard grass
In our place
Any different?

Different from ordinary
Field grass ?

Remember how you wanted
The sound recordist
To make a loop,

Wildtrack of your feet
Through the wet
At the foot of a field?


Yet for all their lush
Compliant dialect
No way plants here
Arrived at a settlement.

Not the mare's tail,
Not the broom or whins
It must have to do 
With the wind.


Not that the grass itself
Ever rests in peace.

It too takes issue,
Now sets it's face

To the wind,
Now turns it's back.


" See me?" it says,
" The wind

Has me well rehearsed
In the ways of the world.

Unstable is good.
Permission granted!

Go then, citizen
Of the wind.
Go with the flow." 

Seamus Heaney
Human Chain

Seamus Heaney by Derek Hill.

1 comment:

  1. didn't know you bought the book - will have to think again now about your Chrissie present!


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