Never Without Her

by Patricia McCarthy

He never had to do without her.
Her smile lived in his eyes,
her presence clothed him.

Odd times when apart,
she breathed in his rhymes
scrawled on shreds of paper

that padded out his pockets.
He shaped her in his shout:
hand cupped to his mouth –

Kath, Kath. Mavourneen.
Through streets, esplanades,
night lights, her tall figure

echoed to his need, fell in
with his step. Then back.
He never had to do without her.

We had to do without him
histories ago. When the car
knocked him down, his lips

stiffened into the call of her name,
the pleasure-boat he had planned
to captain for trips with her

around his body and heart
drawn up forever alongside her
in his broken arms’ harbour –

flags all drooped at half-mast.
We have had to do without her.
And make-do now with her face

reflected still in his monocle,
with his love for her in old songs
crooning in his West Cork blood:

Believe me if all those endearing
young charms, Now the day is over…
His fiddle trembles in its case

as we chime in with him:
…soon I’ll be sailing far across
the sea. O please remember me!

Reproduced with the kind permission of the author. Patricia McCarthy, winner of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2013, is the editor of the national/international poetry journal, Agenda.