Friday poem: 'Daylight Saving'

23 October 2015

By Sean O'Brien

The clocks go back. As the light fails
Down on the path by the Metro line
Where yellow leaves have drifted overnight
Against the wire fences, men walk with dogs
To show they are not murderers.
Neither here nor there, trains pass
On other lines. They pull the grey air
Inside out. The dog spooks easily,
Knowing what humans will do.

I stop to listen where there used to be
A house you couldn’t find except on foot.
The kids demolished it, and creepers claim
Its blackened bricks. The smell
Of years-old burning makes me homeless,
But the story is not mine, no more
Than this unhappy accident of place
That lies beyond a frontier no one drew
And yet stands undisputed. Here

At world’s end, nothing intervenes,
And if a place could know me, now it does.
A step too far, beyond the light
Shed by the streetlamp at the bridge
And things are what they are, dark air
And ruination, far-off trains, the dog
Who, like his foolish master,
Cannot tell which way to turn.
Invite me in, then, emptiness.

'Daylight Saving' is published in The Beautiful Librarians by Sean O'Brien – shortlisted for the 2015 T S Eliot Prize.

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