Piper in a Sligo car park

A racial memory set to music steers
between the Esso pumps and climbs away
beyond the plastic bunting. Barrow- graves
stand tenantless awhile when tunes like these
call kings and heroes in. Demisted here
the Celtic twilight, cleared and bleached to white,
greens sickly where the neon meets the night.

In Datsun jacket, scarfed against the wind,
he paces where the Irish dark defeats
the spread of street-lamps. Myths and sea-sounds meet
in music piped through pumps and bunting where
a drum begins to fill the cadence in.
Half-heard at first, a bodran drummer, loyal
in worn and lubricated green half-spoiled

by pockets reading British Leyland, lifts
the shifting rhythm, raps it up and now
the pipes and night have hoof-beats in them. Towers
and mountains, spears and battle-cars had sounds
like these – without the plastic flapping. Mists
reform and bear the drumming up until
it taps again at barrows in the hills.


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