I was returning home from Dublin to Galway, on the bus that links cities from east to west. I was so busy reading about poetry that I didn’t see the lines calling out to me as head bent I whizzed by them. The book told me about watching and listening, yet I didn’t see the stanzas of fields that had no stones and so they planted trees for boundaries, girded them with alder and hawthorn, or sometimes staked with sheep wire, to keep the animals in.
I must have missed a dozen poems on that journey while busily turning another page: The rook that preened his fan of wing so close, only a pane of glass between us; the rush of grass in a meadow; the wave of a sycamore by a rusted gate, elderflower fruiting. I failed to see the crone of beech across a ditch, all gnarled and withered, bent over, leaning into futility.
There were trees sawn back, holding their amputated arms to the sky in surrender, cows sitting, waiting for the rain. So engrossed was I in the rudiments of verse making, I failed to notice the lean fragments of stone emerge somewhere between Athlone and Ballinasloe, then home beginning to form in the build up of its dry stone walls.
I lost them all, while the book I was reading ‘on freeing the writer within’ told me that the question was: not what I looked at, but what I saw.