When the evenings clear
everything looks dirty again

like a dead blackbird picked clean
ploughed into the lane
the collapsed tunnels of a strawberry farm

the clumps of moss washed from the slate
by winter’s driving rain
into the stone yards

and the sheets hung on wire-lines
in the closes
the sound of a leather ball

beating hypnotically against the gable end
the factory mill-horns
the voices of women at the gates –

even the mountains looked old and used:
then he came
a rally from the past

ghosts raised from bulrushes
the rotting weeds of flax ponds
his voice the hooters of steel ships

tumbling down wooden scaffolding
into oily water –

they put him high on a lorry back
till his head held the sun
till his head blocked every second-storey window

his head a grotesque cartoon on a church ceiling

a large man in a linen hat
a plantation owner

the summer crowd seaweeding him
a band out of tune
to the broad single street of hate.

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