Return to Donegal

He remembers his first time here more clearly
Than he remembers that yesterday was Friday,
Or that we stopped for lunch in Letterkenny.
The smell of the peat smoke was the first thing he noticed, he says,
And it seemed to stay in his nose for days.

Sixty-five years later and he remembers that round
The next bend there's an old stone bridge over a river
Rich in trout. At least it was.
And here he had to stop, a car sick child, he says, and once,
We spent a sleepless night in that old manse.

Now he looks out over Sheephaven Bay, the wind
Lifting grey cobwebs from his head
And flying his trousers from driftwood shins.
He cannot hear the curlew's rippling call. He's tired, he says,
And I watch his stumble steps draw him away.

Carolyn Thompson

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