For Mary Heaney

There was a sunlit absence.
The helmeted pump in the yard
heated its iron,
water honeyed
 
in the slung bucket
and the sun stood
like a griddle cooling
against the wall
 
of each long afternoon.
So, her hands scuffled
over the bakeboard,
the reddening stove
 
sent its plaque of heat
against her where she stood
in a floury apron
by the window.
 
Now she dusts the board
with a goose’s wing,
now sits, broad-lapped,
with whitened nails
 
and measling shins:
here is a space
again, the scone rising
to the tick of two clocks.
 
And here is love
like a tinsmith’s scoop
sunk past its gleam
in the meal-bin.

From "North", 1975

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