for Seamus Heaney
It could be overwhelming in this room,
so many laurelled heads, their talk replete
with carrots dangled, first names dropped (assumed,
of course, one knows of whom the speaker speaks).
Post-prandial tobacco from the pouch,
tamped into pipes, exhales its sweetly damp
sienna on the air. We take the couch
(he seems to wish to flee his sycophants)
and warm the cognac offered, caramel
and fiery, in tiny crystal glasses.
It’s both delicious and medicinal,
I say (who me? say silly things when nervous?)
He sets me right at ease, Like poetry
a wee bit, no? Delighting and instructing?
It’s hard to hear that lilt and not to think
of peat smoke rising, umber-black, from chimneys,
and fog as thick as cream on coffee, laced
(delicious and medicinal?) with Jameson.