For Anne

We’ll walk again.
We’ve known, between us,
sickness and fear, the madness
that makes friendship loneliness,
mislaid vocations, learned to love,
never quite forgotten that we walked
or that we’ll walk again.

We’ll walk again:
drink wine that springs from roadside fountains,
meet angels, know them by
their wire-spoked wing-umbrellas,
understand the Incarnation
eating sardines on Maundy Thursday,
hear the cock crow mid-Mass, standing
out where hands weren’t washed or wine poured,
toil across endless dusty plains,
follow the stars spread westwards, seen once,
follow the subtle trail of golden shells,
wonder how your great-grandfather
walked almost all the way up Everest
(and then, more, down again)
while your feet dissolve in friction.
I’ll turn out, another seven times,
not to be Irish,
disappoint another seven bands of pilgrims;
we’ll walk west,
catch wandering horreos,
sing psalms in kitchens so new,
so ill-equipped,
there’s nothing else to do there,
we’ll walk,
arrive,
hug, disbelieving, in the square,
pat St James
(timidly)
on his shoulder,
linger…

It won’t, of course, be like that this time,
but even so, we’ll walk.

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