Thursday Poem

At Banagher

Then all of a sudden there appears to me
The journeyman tailor who was my antecedent:
Up on a table, cross-legged, ripping out

A garment he must recut or resew,
His lips tight back, a thread between his teeth,
Keeping his counsel always, giving none,

His eyelids steady as wrinkled horn or iron.
Self-absenting, both migrant and ensconced;
Admitted into kitchens, into clothes

His touch has the power to turn to cloth again—
All of a sudden he appears to me,
Unopen, unmendacious, unillumined.

………………………………… *

So more power to him on the job there, ill at ease
Under my scrutiny in spite of years
Of being inscrutable as he threaded needles

Or matched the facings, linings, hems and seams.
He holds the needle just off center, squinting,
And licks the thread and licks and sweeps it through,

Then takes his time to draw both threads out even,
Plucking them sharply twice. Then back to stitching.
Does he ever question what it all amounts to?

Or ever will? Or care where he lays his head?
My Lord Buddha of Banagher, the way
Is opener for you being in it.

by Seamus Heaney
The Spirit Level