The Approaches

By Harry Clifton b. 1952 Harry Clifton
A childless, futureless road
And then nothing. . . Is that it?
Or start believing in a God
Beyond the temporal limit

Of westering skies, wide, melancholy,
Uncut fields and paced-out walls
As we drive towards it slowly,
The house that has us both in thrall.

They are gone, now, the hours of light
It took to get here. Might-have-beens,
Lost wanderyears. But that's alright—
We are trading it in, the seen

For the experienced, the car keys
For the end of the journey,
When distances have lost their power
And the heart beats slower

In tomorrow's cold, a coming weather
One degree north of yesterday.
High latitudes—as they say,
There is nothing up here

But wind and silence, passing clouds,
Light diminished half a tone,
A dish left out all night for the gods
By morning turned to stone.

So take a right, go down two gears
And stay in second, where the church is
And the pig farm. Only the approaches
Are terrible, only the years,

The getting here, which takes forever.
A boy in tears, a barren crone
On a bicycle, a man alone—
They're waving. . . It's now or never

For the final self, I assume—
For the shape of the house
On the skyline, the release
Into childhood, and the coming home.

Source: Poetry (June 2008).

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Poet Harry Clifton b. 1952

POET’S REGION Ireland

Subjects Living, Youth, Religion