(15/07/56 / Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, Eire.)

' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' A Clock Ticks(For Scarlet)

A clock

A vase
reflects upon itself

in an enormous ornate
gilt mirror

her own flowers

& how they are

A fire
spits sparks

sending shadows
scuttling up walls.

A coal scuttle
is either half empty/half full.

A clock
strikes nine
&... chimes

slightly ahead of
the real time.

.A picture
quaint & antique

hangs slightly askew
against the horrid

wall paper
& its unattractive roses.

A record
(an old shellac 78)

has found a scratch
& keeps returning to it

picking at the musical phrase
like a scab.

Caruso’s... got... got... hiccups.

One mirror
gazes into the face
of another mirror.

Both enamoured
of the other

seeing only

An un-drunk cup of tea
cools steadily

leaving a thin skin
on top.

A sugar lump
has come to rest

on a small
Turkish carpet

the delights of Paradise.

A moth falls madly in love
with an old flame

but it soon fizzles

The only thing living
in this room

is an old tattered tortoiseshell
cat asleep

by her master’s
stockinged feet

so deep
she hasn’t even heard


A clock


I was bathed in sweat(fearing no more the heat of the sun) and reading a novelisation of the life of Edvard Munch under Amalfi skies. I looked up and Capri looked back at me. Capri said nothing. Either did I. Sweat dripped from my eyebrows onto the phrase A CLOCK TICKS. Suddenly my mind went click and the poem(without me knowing where I was going or who was going with me) proceeded to write itself and waited for me to catch up with it. The sun and the phrase sent me back to another sunny day in 1972 when I was doing my Inter Cert and we had an English exam after dinner. But now we were teenage boys playing soccer in the school yard all tarmacadam and concrete. I had scored seven goals but was now the goalie. I dived spectacularly to turn a certain goal around the post with a fingertip and hit my head off the post. The concrete post. The bell rang and I arose to do an English exam concussed and seeing double so I probably did the same question on Thomas Hardy twice. On the way in to the exam someone told of an old lady found in the town who had been dead for weeks. We had played football only the other day against her house making enough noise to waken the dead. But she was really dead inside all the time we played. I was horrified to find this out and thought this was the most horrible thing I had ever heard...that another human being could die alone and forgotten and not mean anything to anyone anymore. I found the ordinariness of this absolutely chilling. I thought she could have been like me with thoughts and fancies and longings and desires...and that they could all come to this.
I held my head to the exam paper and cried into my Hardy:

“Woman much missed how you call to me...call to me! ”

Someone had to cry for her and I guess it had to be me. Forty years later... on holiday in Italy I cry for her again...change a few of the details...make up a few of the details...and this poem comes into being.

A clock

User Rating: 2,8 / 5 ( 105 votes ) 2

Comments (2)

Love, this reads, with its short, short sentences, just like the ticking of that clock! And, so with the death, I cried as well, for the kitty all unknowing...and then, when I read the post script about HOW you came to write this, I cried again, for the woman who died alone. Isn't the human mind just the most amazing thing you ever knew of, to remember so long and to create so quickly....And All done SO well! It is just beautiful.
Grippingly told and with the shortline approach a consistent slow read brings all the potent poignancy to bear in the final lines..... a fine piece throughout Donall....10/10 from Fay...