Saturday Afternoon in Dublin

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is in the process
of depressing me singing
the ‘Der Einsame im Herbst’ section
of Das Lied von der Erde.
A flute is playing as I look
at my sisters photographed in New York
in a crowd of twenty-five thousand people
getting ready for a bicycle tour.
I meet them for a few days
every two years or so
but I don’t know them anymore;
only how they used to be
before I went away.
Are you crying yet?
Sometimes you get to know your relatives
better when they’re pinned down
like butterfly specimens
wearing baseball cap and crash helmet respectively.
Kate, I see, has a blue-faced watch
with snappy red band.
Ellen has let her hair grow.
They both smile nervousl
because my father is taking the picture
in the middle of the throng.
Dietrich, meanwhile, has moved on to a beautiful, sad,
song with harps – I’m glad I don’t know any German –
it’s even sadder hearing words sung
that make no sense.
He says, ’Ja,ja’ better than anyone.
It isn’t music for New York, really.
A Hopper etching: ’Night Shadows’,
an afternoon in Dublin looking
out the arid window for inspiration,
wanting so many things to happen –
that’s when it gets to you.
Are you crying yet?

from NO CAN DO