The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Friday, August 30, 2013


Breezed into my feminist cousin Pauline's organic food store full of the joys.
Inside I found Pauline and her amanuensis Siobhan sitting quietly.
Both seemed deeply moved by something.
"Have you heard?" whispered Pauline all Maud Gonne McBride.
"Heard what?" I replied, thinking Putin must have nuked the Sixth Fleet.
"Heaney is dead," breathed Pauline soulfully.
"Ah for crying out loud," I exclaimed. "I thought it was something important. I nearly wet myself there."
"So you didn't hear?"
"Well okay, I switched on the car radio looking for news of the Syrian War. I wanted to know if Barack and David Cameron have decided we should go to war with Russia on behalf of Al Qaeda, and this RTE half wit intoned as the main news headline: Seamus Heaney is dead. And I switched off the radio. Okay. So I admit it. I did know."
"I thought you respected Heaney," quoth Pauline.
"That doesn't sound like something I'd do," sez me.
"As a fellow poet," persisted Pauline.
"Poets are the harshest judges of other poets," I told her, "mostly we can't stand each other."
"But what about the fellowship of art?" sez she.
"Nerts to that," quoth me. "The only artistic fellowship I've ever enjoyed is with the sheepdog and the budgies."
I peered closely at Pauline and Siobhan.
They were seated at the counter but not in any mode or stance that could be interpreted as a readiness to sell vegetables to customers.
With horror, I beheld several collections of Seamus Heaney poems spread out in front of them.
Apparently they'd been holding an impromptu recital and retrospective in honour of the great man.
"Bloody hell," I murmured with some restraint when I realised what they were at. "Are those Heaney poems? You'd better be careful. One of those things might go off."
Pauline didn't seem to have heard.
"Brigadier Berrigan rang me this morning to let me know," she explained dreamily. "It was kind of lovely. The two of us, different age groups, different backgrounds, different lives, just talking about what Heaney meant to us."
"I thought it was lovely too when I heard," I agreed, "but probably for different reasons to you and the Brigadier."
Pauline was growing ever more dreamy.
"My Dad brought me to a Heaney reading in Boston when I was six years old," she maundered. "It was the first poetry recital I ever attended."
"Had you done something bad?" I enquired. "Did he bring you as a punishment?"
Pauline raised one of the books.
"This poem is called Exposure," she said softly.
I thought there was an undercurrent of threat in her voice, ie that she might be thinking of reading it to me.
But something held me rooted to the spot.
A macarbre fascination perhaps, or an evil power.
"Is it one of his watery ones?" I asked innocently. "There's always a lot of water in Heaney poems. Rivulets. Streams. Drips. General Dampness. Moist wetness. Oceans. Puddles. Patinas of puddles mixed with generally damp oceans wetly washing against the absolutely soaking wet sea shore. Water, water, everywhere, I think I need a drink. It gushes, flows, and positively oozes out of every verse. Dank, dank, dank. By which I mean, no danks. Now stop that Pauline. I already read one in 1985. By the way, Brigadier Berrigan knows General Dampness personally, doesn't he? I think they used to work together before Dampness left the Irish army and became batman for Seamus Heaney."
Swept away by some strange mystic lack of taste, Pauline had already started to declaim.
She recited:

"It is December in Wicklow:
Alders dripping, birches
Inheriting the last light,
The ash tree cold to look at."

I was out the door before she got to the second verse, heading towards the Coulan CafĂ© in search of pork chops.
We all have our own ways of mourning.


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