, Salem, MA


September 20, 2013

Remembering Seamus Heaney on the North Shore


on the way north. I pointed out Egg Rock

on the horizon where Plath’s swimmer was drawn

by the forgetful surf. He welcomed my story,

professed not to know that particular poem.

Hughes, he said, was a good friend and a kind man.

Who wouldn’t be kind to you, I thought,

with your easy openness, your generous acceptance

of our piddling stipend to read at our state college.

We’d chosen the pub in Marblehead,

thinking he’d prefer its down at the heel

Yankee raffishness to somewhere posh.

Besides, its fare was what we could afford.

And he understood, sized up the long bar,

the regulars at their stools and asked,

What would you like? Whatever you like,

Mr. Heaney, whatever you like.

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