For Andreas Flückiger, Schlossstrasse 144
Despite repeated efforts to transplant it
we’ve failed to make it ever take root here
so far inland. By now we struggle
to recall its species or its seaboard origin.
The time is coming when we won’t remember
even the spelling of its donor’s name,
yours, who made it grow in such profusion
with the unwavering devotion
of a newcomer to the island’s climate.
We’ll need no longer to feel anxiety
about your safety on the narrow path
to the end of Toe Head promontory
where you led us, natives all, single-file,
as the Blasket-islanders walked the Dingle pavements
in a careful line, as if they’d never left
the dangerous sheer drop down to the sea.
Bernard O’Donoghue is an Irish poet and academic based in Oxford. His latest collection of poems, “The Seasons of Cullen Church”, is published by Faber.
This article appears in the 02 Jun 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Return of the West