There are no snowdrops here; that bed, unpierced,
is a circle of resistance. Evening leads
into its lengthening self. So Sunday dies
and I descend into a Stygian place
where nothing matters but the wait. No books
prepare you for that hour before a glass
looking at a stranger, his eyes reading
a vacancy in yours; there's something fierce
in that distracted, fretful gaze, a wondering -
how did this other get here? It will pass:
with luck the dark will swallow itself up
and leave me with the delusion of no change,
the younger man who once looked out with hope.
How long ago was that: how many dank
and fruitless nights have parted to admit
this shambling life, dishonesty writ large,
character left rotting where it sank?
Today is Sunday. No lie changes it.
After tea, the clotting smell of smoke
along old stairwells. Clear air stings the eyes
while shadows break the spotlight on the path.
We spend the night rifling old memories
for one that might bring comfort, one to take
and wind around our sleeplessness. But none
oblige; as though they've burrowed underneath
the years' resentments, morning's cowardice,
and sleep there, whole and undisturbed, while this
ironic spring, this slow, unfolding death
of what we thought too precious to let go
gathers apace; it leaves a weight like stone
where should have been a sob; and though we know
it happens for the best, the best is gone.

Ted McCarthy lives and teaches in Clones, and has had work published in Ireland, Britain, Europe and the States. He has a couple of scripts for short films in pre-production at the moment, and will have a second collection,  working title Beverly Downs published in 2011. He can be found online at www.writingonthewind.com (edmundmcc@hotmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761