Saturday evenings we would stand in line
In Loudan's butcher shop. Red beef, white string,
Brown paper ripped straight off for parcelling
Along the counter edge. Rib roast and shin
Plonked down, wrapped up, and bow-tied neat and clean
But seeping blood. Like dead weight in a sling,
Heavier far than I had been expecting
While my father shelled out for it, coin by coin.
Saturday evenings too the local B-Men,
Unbuttoned but on duty, thronged the town,
Neighbours with guns, parading up and down,
Some nodding at my father almost past him
As if deliberately they'd aimed and missed him
Or couldn't seem to place him, not just then.
Harry Boyle's one-room, one-chimney house
With its settle bed was our first barber shop.
We'd go not for a haircut but "a clip":
Cold smooth creeping steel and snicking scissors,
The strong-armed chair, the plain mysteriousness
Of your sheeted self inside that neck-tied cope
Half sleeveless surplice, half hoodless Ku Klux cape.
Harry Boyle's one-roomed, old bog-road house
Near enough to home but unfamiliar:
What was it happened there?
Weeds shoulder-high up to the open door,
Harry not shaved, close breathing in your ear,
Loose hair in windfalls blown across the floor
Under the collie's nose. The collie's stare.
District and Circle
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Copyright © 2006 by Seamus Heaney.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.