Poetry by Frank McMahon
TO THE RIVER
This is where we came, here, to the river
for the first time, along the rutted path,
cowslips, bluebells jostling at the edge; past
the dandelion meadow, its pale-white
sheet of puffballs waiting to be blown and cast.
Together to the river to explore
the glistening flow of water, vigorous
and sinuous, limpid rills and ripples
beneath the cobalt sky and canopy
of iridescent green. Each moment
folding into itself the heat, intense
upon our face, the stones’ cool splash and spray,
shouts and birdsong; each uplifted stone setting
free the grains of memory, when we were
also held, entranced, imagination’s
captives in the bubble of our dreams.
It takes a big leap of the imagination
to see the line of descent from dinosaur to
blackbird, until you view the fossil record. But
you still can’t quite collapse fifty million years into
an hour’s time-frame. Think then instead about falling
in love and being in love. Falling, but more
crucially, being caught in passion’s net, held or trapped
depending. Two tyros learning their moves on high-wire
or trapeze, diving earthwards, hands outstretched. Maybe
love really begins when they both discard the net.
Five, irregular hypotenuse, small
to tall, two seconds still until they burst
upon the playground, all whirl, heat and noise,
riding the iron steeds as if lift-off
could be conjured, hooves dragging chariots,
sweat slathering the straining flanks, the crowd
tip-toe, bets made and lost, fervour, fever.
Except one, the sixth, beyond us all, should
be running towards us, arms out, headlong.
Our new home sits on a tilting hill, peals
of bells hung from the passing clouds; night-time
music, notes filling the space between the stars,
rubato nudging the rings of Saturn.