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This poem was my answer to the opening question, posed in a letter. The husband went along his way, but I got this poem in exchange; time has shown that to be a fair trade, like the lost plums.

Reply by Return of Post

(for Iain)

What do you do there all day?

I drink my milky morning coffee
With two eagles banking through the mist,
Other fingers cupped around a palmful
Of rolled oats for the hooded crows.

I follow the snow-tracks of four pheasant
Who startle the finches, who spook the jays,
Who scare everything else in the woods
Into joining their pissed-off serenade.

I read MacNeice in the kitchen and rise breathless,
Imagine that I can see his gray-green land across the sound
And not the jumbled rainbow of Tobermory
Laughing in the momentary sunshine.

I watch my husband in his workshop
Smoothing an oak board with a hira ganna
Stripped to the waist, bearing down,
Shoulders glistening under the pale winter sun.

I meet with the bullfinches in the orchard
And agree to a trade: My future Shropshire plums
And autumn cherries, for their summer breasts
And winter piping in the apple branches.

I walk to the post office in the rain.


(photo: Wikipedia)


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