I leave the hotel early, last night’s
meeting still fresh in my mind, drive
the busy, rain-washed streets.
Traffic slows and I notice a man
in a grey wool coat waiting to cross,
picture him leaving his house
after a restless night, a hurried breakfast
and a quick goodbye. Maybe a neighbour
spotted him as she opened her blinds,
thought it unusual to see him so early.
The lights change, he pops his collar
and steps out, disappearing into
the morning crowd, and I
am tempted to follow.
Rushing out the door to meet you,
I am already sitting on the bus
when I sense I have forgotten something,
just not sure what. Keys, money, cards,
all present and correct. I kick-start
my memory by silently reciting
the multiplication tables, one to twelve,
mentally slurring the answers
when I’m not sure, but nothing triggers
and, by the time I reach the restaurant,
I’ve already covered US State Capitals
and half the Periodic Table (a testament
to my mother, her love of Pointless).
When I arrive you are already sitting
at our favourite table – a special night,
months in the planning – your tanned
fingers splayed against the white linen,
and I remember what it is I’m missing.
Winner of the 2015 Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, he has been runner-up or shortlisted in Listowel, Cuirt, Patrick Kavanagh, Interpreter’s House and Cork Literary Review. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group and has recently published his debut collection ‘Growing Up in Colour’ with Doire Press.