I will not travel tonight.
Toward dawn a star
In Andromeda will abruptly

Die, but the world and his wife,
Tonight shrouded in snow
Where they live, will see

Nothing of this, instead will marvel
With drinks through glass
At a slow lace of snow slipping

Down the dark limbs of trees
Or, when that bores them, may
Number together as they drift

Toward sleep the thin
Skins of heat like leaves
Slipping from little hands

And little feet, feeling
Their warm houses with leaves
And snow filling, the children’s rooms

Softly into dark drifts
Tilting, will take at dawn
What small comfort they may need

From the high spars
Of trees returning safely
Home on a grey tide and,

Under the trees, a few
Calm stars straying down
Over the rim of the planet

Of the living where each brain
In its pit stirs again
For me only, a waking world

Recollects its purpose
And I – abroad I will go once more,
Savouring my choices

As there, and there again, life
Whistles from a clutch of thorn,
Spawns bone in the humming ponds.


Richard Ryan (born 1946 in Dublin) is a recently retired Irish diplomat. His postings included Tokyo, Brussels, London, Seoul, Spain, the United Nations New York, and Prague. He published two volumes of verse, Ledges (1970) and Ravenswood (1973) with Dolmen Press, Dublin.

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