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THE LIFE SO SHORT, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: The wind colder even than march in maine, though the same sea
Subject(s): Life; Transience; Mortality; Birds

Sitting outside when the sun shines,
I hold up my throat to the open blade of it:
soundwaves crest at my sleepy ears,
leaving their flotsam of birdsong,
tractors ticking over on the near hill,
the long clean line of bee-sound
and that sudden highpitched, rasp-blue riff
of a bluebottle, syncopation
of two builders' hammers,
this watery breeze-in-leaves
or that clicketing wren tapping out
its speedy Morse - tiktik tikettytiktik tik.

It's why I love the place:
for the blessing of a break in bad weather that's
lasted and lasted, the sudden good day
opening around me like a book of poems
you'd love and sip at - illumination
after illumination, a tame linnet
on your heated shoulder
singing and staying there without a fear in the world
as time itself rolls back
and lets you in on its secret,
that for the time being it has folded its tent
and taken to the air
and dissolved in it, and so there's time
to catch that discreet throat- clearing hhack!
of the approaching pheasant,
read the thick calligraphy
of white lichens on the rock, ice-rounded,
that stood near the door here
as part of the garden wall
for a hundred years and more,
or the duff green cover of moss
on big stones that lift their backs
above their elemental grass like dolphins.

And under the garden - between the living room window
and the barb-wired bank of grass -
there's a seam of fireclay, its gray porridge
absolute gray, a mush you'd draw up in the old days
to make a hearth-back, slapping on wet by hand
and waiting for it to dry
in dungsmoke and turfsmoke
to its own impregnable core. So I'll sit here
till the shade of the east-facing cottage finds me
with its chill, then walk out
into the domain of digitalis, cuckooflower, scabious,
and mountain larks who liquefy the air
and stand on the wind
like artists of their own furious musical repose,
while in and out of the ancient passage grave,
between its great unpended courtly stones,
fly stonechat and starling, blackbird, rose-chested linnet, wren,
in and out of the burial court
of great men in their time, these live birds
who know nothing of the space we share
but what their beaks and bones tell them,
and their lit, quicksilver eyes.

Copyright Eamon Grennan

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