Seán Hewitt

Posted in 2022-2023 Readings and Talks

Seán Hewitt Headshot
Photo Credit: Stuart Simpson

October 4th, 2022 at 7:00PM ET

Moderated by Cóilín Parsons



Waking, close to morning but still
a shuttered, metal dark in the room:
a sound inside my dream, only a whimper
at first, then becoming human, a howl
raised in the street outside, left unanswered
then raised again. In my boxers, shivering
by the single-paned window, but seeing no one
among the black shapes of the parked cars
or hedges, I went out half-dressed: hands shaking,
front door unlocked then pushed open,
and by the column of the porch, under a cone
of orange light, a young man slumped,
drunk, sobbing like his whole life
was unfurling into sound.


And now, I am reminded of one afternoon,
home from school, my father digging out
the root of a conifer in the garden – I saw him
look up, suddenly alert, leave by the back gate
into the alley behind the terraces, and return
panicked with a boy in his arms. I recognised him,
about my age, from school, by his dreadlocks,
his turquoise streak of hair; but now lolling
under his own weight, his wrists draining
over my father’s mudded jeans and the patio tiles.
I knew, even then, the rumours about him;
thought as we wrapped and pinned torn sheets
around his opened veins, how we might share,
once the truth was out, a bond, an elective blood.


Nights later, I only half-slept, expecting
at any moment to hear someone again outside,
as though time might be caught in a loop,
the same boy walking the mapped route
along the dark streets at the same hour
to my door. Again, I unshuttered the window,
stood waiting to see him come, barefoot, maybe,
down the path. Each night, no sign, until I thought,
perhaps, it was only me, or a dream of myself,
asking nightly to be greeted at the threshold,
allowed back into the cold room of my life.
But then, in each of us, a wound must be made
or given – there is always the soul waiting
at the door of the body, asking to be let out.

From Tongues of Fire (Jonathan Cape, 2020)

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