Small Hours

Somebody has been reading 

Book of the Week 

but the radio’s off. I’ve heard the gale-warning 

for the sea south of us. 



runs caressingly down the outside walls 

of every room. 


Yesterday, two printed 

death-announcements arrested me, the first 

for a man rich in honours 

who had made a hundred and one, 

the second, right above it, 

for a child who ‘fell asleep’ on her first day. 


The rain quickens and falters, quickens. 

Grief gusts around us 

in stories we shall never know. 


To report on the dreadful 

with an unflinching voice, 

is that poetry? 

To say 

life is terrible, man a morass 

of contradictions? 

Or to move 

like a person of leisure, of dreamed-of leisure, 

from long curtained rooms 

to the bright thriving garden? 


as we would have it? 


all you want is a few words 

that will say how hard it was for us 

at one a.m. on a Wednesday morning 

so clearly that a thousand years may hear. 

from Small Hours (Faber, 2010), © Lachlan MacKinnon 2010, used by permission of the author and publisher, Faber & Faber Ltd.

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