(a fictional response)
in reply to Seamus Heaney's translation of
Eoghan Rua Suilleabhain's instructions to
blacksmith Seamus MacGearailt
Eoghan, forge me some lines for the working man;
this deal's to be struck before an inch of your steel
shall feel the hammer. Sit while I request my wants;
spare me the scars of a fickle heart, let me feel
the furnace that pastes a shirt into the small of a back,
the rawness of drought in the hollow of a grit-desert palm,
the suffering of timber when swiftly judged by the axe,
or the coal dust settling in the pockets of the lungs like tar,
the rheumatic creak from the shaft of a veteran shovel
as Stentor to Hermes when compared to the bones of himself;
too weak to compete with what lies beneath the muscle.
And the rhythm, Eoghan, I beg you, sweet as a bell.
If you have any comments on this poem, Brett Evans would be pleased to hear them.