Summer Starts Here

So today is officially the first day of the summer holidays.

Cáit has gone off to her music residential, I hope she gets on OK. She was tearful when she left me earlier when Angela was leaving her down. She has no mobile phone so when she is homesick, I dunno how she’ll ring home. Maybe better if she doesn’t.

The boys as usual bollockin about the garden, playing golf, hurling and football and a combination of all three. Spoke to my-friend-John and I reckon I’ll get them a lesson a week to ensure they learn golf the way my da learned me!

The other two, having forcibly befriended the neighbours’ children over the last wee while, have been running back and forth for the last few weeks. Sorcha got a medal for coming third in her schools sports in her class. When I asked her what events she had won she confidently replied ‘Bow and Arrow.’

I was at the sports day. There was no bow and arrow competition. Still, she really did come third.

So here comes the summer and the pursuit of happyness.

Direct Access to the Word Hoard:The Enduring Appeal of Norman MacCaig

In this BBC Scotland feature, Seamus Heaney and others describe the effect of the late Norman MacCaig’s poetry. Heaney loved the ‘strictness and susceptibility’ in his work

I myself heard Norman MacCaig deliver a reading when I was a student in Stirling University. Then, he was a craggy old Scotsman with a twinkle in his eye. His poetry was wonderful and struck a chord.

His poems came alive through his Scots burr of a voice. Recently I rediscovered MacCaig when I came upon his newly published The Poems of Norman MacCaig.

Visiting Hour

The hospital smell
combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.

What seems a corpse
is trundled into a lift and vanishes

I will not feel, I will not
feel, until
I have to.

Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously
carrying their burden
of so much pain, so
many deaths, their eyes
still clear after
so many farewells.

Ward 7. She lies
in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand
trembles on its stalk. Eyes move
behind eyelids too heavy
to raise. Into an arm wasted
of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain that neither she nor I
can cross.

She smiles a little at this
black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises
in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,
not smaller, leaving behind only
books that will not be read
and fruitless fruits.


If you like poetry, you’ll not buy a better book this year.