by Derek Mahon (1941-2020)
For Seamus Heaney First time out I was a torc of gold And wept tears of the sun. That was fun But they buried me In the earth two thousand years Till a labourer Turned me up with a pick In eighteen fifty-four. Once I was an oar But stuck in the shore To mark the place of a grave When the lost ship Sailed away. I thought Of Ithaca, but soon decayed. The time that I liked Best was when I was a lump of clay In a Navaho rug Put to mitigate The too god-like Perfection of that Merely human artifact I served my maker well - He lived long To be struck down in Denver by an electric shock The night the lights Went out in Europe Never to shine again. So many lives, So many things to remember! I was a stone in Tibet, A tongue of bark At the heart of Africa Growing darker and darker . . . It all seems A little unreal now, Now that I am An anthropogist With my own Credit card, dictaphone, Army-surplus boots And a whole boatload of photographic equipment. I know too much To be anything more; And if in the distant Future someone Thinks he has been me As I am today, Let him revise His insolent ontology Or teach himself to pray.