Abstracted, sour, as he reaches across a dish
Of plaice, his hand on a tray of birds, O'Neill
Uplugs the weary fan: flat heaps of fish
Exhale. He watches Reynolds grope and pile
His window opposite with melons, fresh
Leather of cabbage, oranges . . . and smile.
Wiping his gamy hands he turns and thirsts
Abruptly for clay and fragrance, until it seems
The South in a sweet globe sinks to his lips and bursts.
And yet red-wristed Reynolds dreams and dreams
That he flies with the snipe in the sparse bracken, or thrusts
Cold muscle to the depths and dumbly screams.
I have slipped at evening through that ghostly quarrel,
Making a third, to round the simple moral.
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Posted 25 November 1996 by Seamus Cooney