Welsh poet Andrew McNeillie has published three collections of poetry, including Nevermore (2000), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. He is also the author of two memoirs: An Aran Keeing (2001), which covers his eleven-month stay on the island Inis Mor between 1968 and 1969; and its prequel, Once (2009). McNeillie co-founded Clutag Press in 2002, served the Literature Editor at Oxford University Press from 2004 to 2009, and currently teaches English at Exeter University’s campus in Cornwall.
How many times was it those foggy anaesthetic days
when I could hardly see a hand before my eyes but felt your breath?
I’ve learnt not to look for an intelligent answer from you …
But I remember that break-of-day you stood your ground for once,
as if it was yesterday, and I travelling the low road of my idyll,
knowing this was it at last and he was with you.
Nothing I thought or said could alter that. He’d not stir
if I slipped my hand under the blanket and shook his foot
the way he used to do to me, afraid we might be late
for the morning rise and shine up there in Paradise.
How many times but never again like that, not now I know you
for what you are? Like the back of my hand, as they say,
your grip tightening even as it loses hold, has lost its hold
on reason, now on life, as you loiter there as if to be sure this is it.
And what then is it after all but nothing we knew wouldn’t happen?
Still I sat on there watching those signs of nothing gather,
as if incredulous. It haunted me for weeks of mourning
I can tell you, dumbly, down all my failure
to love anyone adequately, inadequate to know my feelings
and to make them known. As now I see too late.
From Slower (Carcanet, 2006)
Seminar | March 12, 2013
Reading | March 12, 2013