|Noel Duffy was born in Dublin. His debut collection In the Library of Lost Objects (Ward Wood Publishing, London, 2011) was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award for best First Collection by an Irish Poet. A second collection On Light & Carbon followed in autumn 2013. His latest collection Summer Rain is expected in summer 2016, again from Ward Wood.|
Water too has a skin,
that membrane that separates
its world from our own, the meniscus
that trembles in the light
late evening breeze, not breaking it
but forming small rivulets
upon its surface, a flickering
of light playing on the eye
separating our world from theirs:
the kingdom of water,
the kingdom of air.
In the late months of every year they must face
the perennial ordeal: to make the long journey back
from the wide oceans’ deep to the freshwater lakes
in which they were spawned and will, in turn, spawn.
Between them and their passage upriver
the salmon leap, that terrifying obstacle
that must be confronted, each attempt against it
a life-sapping assault of current and granite.
So they burrow deep then soar from their element
before crashing back down into the churning water,
the scars along their flexing bodies a previous course
tested, tried and conquered. But when they fail
they drift awhile and languish in the shallows, regaining
their strength before facing again what has to be faced,
more wily this time of the path that might be taken
to overcome the barrier that blocks their course
to the still-water reed-pools of their birth.
Rain Over Beacon Tarn
The cycle continues as it has always done,
the moisture carried up invisibly from the sea
gathering in a darkening cumulus
and drifting southward over the Eastern Fells.
And when a certain density of saturation
has been reached the cloud lets loose
its cargo of rain, starting lightly
in a gentle drizzle, then building suddenly
to a deluge. The heavy raindrops fall
across the landscape, over the pine trees
and cedar groves, the valleys and fells; and down
over the waters of Beacon Tarn, drop-dropping
on the surface in an increasing pulse, its staccato
marking small explosions on the exterior face
as it rejoins the mass of water in a cycle
that repeats as it will always do, supporting life
and nature by these circulations, like blood
passing through the heart’s chambers.
Otter at Rydal
She moves quickly from the holt towards the river,
the snow plotting her footsteps over frozen ground
and foliage. She slinks into the water, mammal
but river-tied, sliding outward into the tensing current
and drawn slowly downstream by the river’s muscle.
She ducks beneath the water before surfacing again,
inspects the bank with a fleeting glance, her fur
greased to a skullcap as she looks about a moment
then goes under again, her two dark eyes now
two dark windows onto the watery gloom below
as she smoothly descends into her second world.