Seamus Heaney


in California

I sit under Rand McNally’s  
‘Official Map of the Moon’—  
The colour of frogskin, 
Its enlarged pores held

Open and one called  
‘Pitiscus’ at eye level—  
Recalling the last night 
In Donegal, my shadow 

Neat upon the whitewash  
From her bony shine,  
The cobbles of the yard  
Lit pale as eggs.

Summer had been a free fall  
Ending there, 
The empty amphitheatre 
Of the west. Good Friday

We had started out 
Past shopblinds drawn on the afternoon,  
Cars stilled outside still churches,  
Bikes tilting to a wall;

We drove by, 
A dwindling interruption,  
As clappers smacked 
On a bare altar

And congregations bent 
To the studded crucifix. 
What nails dropped out that hour?  
Roads unreeled, unreeled

Falling light as casts 
Laid down 
On shining waters. 
Under the moon’s stigmata

Six thousand miles away, 
I imagine untroubled dust, 
A loosening gravity, 
Christ weighing by his hands.