Christmas in Kinsale
After the fairy lights in seaside lounge and bar
the night walk under a blustery Advent sky,
sidereal frost systems money will never buy,
one gull on a night wave, one polished star,
crane light at the quayside, a dark harbour mouth.
Wind chimes this morning through dispersing mist
from the Church of Ireland and St John the Baptist,
smoke rising like incense from a chimney pot.
Once, angels on every branch, scribes in the trees,
‘a continuous chorus of divine praise’.
Does history, exhausted, come full circle?
It ended here at a previous ﬁn de siècle
though leaving vestiges of a distant past
before Elizabeth and the Tudor conquest —
since when, four hundred years of solitude,
rain on crushed bluebells in an autumn wood . . .
Holed up here in the cold gardens of the west
I take out at mid-morning the Christmas rubbish.
Sphere music, the morning stars consort together
in a ﬁne blaze of anticyclone weather
cradling the calm inner, the rough outer harbour,
the silence of frost and crow on telephone lines,
the wet and dry, the cardboard and the trash,
remains of rib and chop, warm cinders, ash,
bags, boxes, bulbs and batteries, bathroom waste,
paper and tinfoil, leaves, crumbs, scraps and bones —
if this were summer there would be clouds of ﬂies
buzzing for joy around the rubbish bins.
The harsh will dies here among snails and peonies,
its grave an iridescence in the sea breeze,
a bucket of water where the rainbow ends.
Elsewhere the cutting edge, the tough cities,
the nuclear wind from Windscale, derelict zones;
here the triumph of carnival, rinds and skins,
mud-wrestling organisms in post-historical phase
and the fuzzy vegetable glow of origins.
A cock crows good-morning from an oil drum
like a peacock on a rain-barrel in Byzantium;
soap-bubbles foam in a drainpipe and life begins.
I dreamed last night of a blue Cycladic dawn,
again the white islands shouting, ‘Come on; come on!’ . . .
— Derek Mahon from New Collected Poems (2011)