that bit more quickly then less purposefully
down a sunlit road that ran from traffic-lights
at the town’s or was it the country’s edge
past fields of corn or suburbs towards a place

I thought it was my responsibility to reach,
though its coordinates or how to get to it
or where exactly I was escaped me,
walking onwards with a queasy sense

that my destination was over my shoulder,
and that that golfer, pint in hand, looked friendly,
but that his directions trailed into gibberish,
and that I’d had this feeling before,

but that this time it was less clear,
and that there was simply no shrugging off
the way precision just wouldn’t preside,
or the way words wouldn’t attach themselves

to places or things, or the way that light
fell like a cloudburst on a crossroads where letters
had weathered from signposts and where if asked
I doubt I could have come up with my name.

Michael O’Neill teaches at Durham University where he is a Professor of English His three volumes of poetry are The Stripped Bed (1990), Wheel (2008) and Gangs of Shadow (2014), the last two published by Arc.

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