From “Clearances,” In Memoriam M.K.H.

By Seamus Heaney


When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayer for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remember her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives—
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.