The Park

By Harry Clifton b. 1952 Harry Clifton
Because anyone sitting still attracts desire,   
Even this will not be given you, the park   
In June, the silence of a bench at eleven o’clock   

On a Monday morning, or four on a Thursday afternoon.   
Someone will drift toward you, unattached   
And lonely. The spell will be broken, the wrong word said.   

It is cool, but there is no death in the few token leaves   
That must have come down last night, in the rain that freshened,   
The tree-smell that remains. For this season there is no name,   

Not summer, and none of the months of the year—   
A something inside you. Search your mind   
For the green arboriferous Word the boys and girls swing out of   

Like a tree, and the lovers   
On the grass in tantric mode, in an ecstasy   
Of untouching, and the human buddhas, legs infolded, reading.   

Branches, sheer translucent leaves—   
You would die to get under them forever, if it were given you,   
The park, on this, a day like any other day,   

And not the knowledge of everyone ever met   
Who will come upon you, sooner or later,   
If only you stay here. No, not people, or the walkways   

Made in another century, or the murmur of the great city   
Everywhere in the distance, but this breathing-space   
Where the void no longer terrible   

But to be relaxed in, the depressions   
Which anyway here are mild, incoming from the west,   
Slow-acting, chronic, lifelong not acute

Are there to be sat through, waited out   
On a damp bench, as a man sweeps up around you   
And the sun comes out in real time, stealing over the ground.

Source: Poetry (March 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2009
 Harry  Clifton


Harry Clifton was born in Dublin and attended Blackrock College and University College, Dublin. His collection of poems, Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004 (2007), won the Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2008. His other honors include the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award and two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. He is a member of Aosdána, the Irish artists’ association. Clifton is the author of the poetry pamphlet Null . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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