Promises Had Been Made

A new poem by Declan Ryan.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Sam Cooke was being murdered
in the bar of the Corinthia,
another retromaniac crooning
this year’s theme-tune. If you ever change your mind…  
You had your Yeats by heart.
You said you’d butcher it, and sure enough
paused, and started lines again.
I didn’t have it to compare
so when you spoke in a low voice
I was convinced you were writing it on air.

A few days on we stood out on your roof,
between Big Ben
and Nelson. Promises had been made
about the moon.
It was caught behind cloud and seemed no fuller
than it ever had,
no nearer than before.
There were clouds across us two,
made of the obscuring months
we passed beneath these same old constellations.

I took on faith you saying
it was the brightest it will ever be,
drawing in as close as it was able.
On faith, I would accept you as the brightest
in my span of years,
the future swinging
whatever light’s still left in its bone lantern.
Apparently we’re already old enough
to mean this won’t happen again
in our lifetime.

Declan Ryan was born in Mayo, Ireland, and lives in London. A pamphlet of his poems was published in the Faber New Poets series in 2014. 

This article appears in the 13 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Maybot malfunctions