Nigel McLoughlin

Songs For No Voices


At four years old I’d turn up and stand and watch the line
shoot, a yard at a time, into a perfect circle in the box
how you’d lash hooks with finger twists too quick to be a knot
or when you sat, a cross-legged magician, mending nets
all wrists and teeth that somehow missed the flying needle.

I’d let fly with a head-full of questions. You’d answer
with a wink and nod to Ned or Paul and I’d believe you
for I knew you knew all the green secrets of the fish
every cold vector of the lough, the shallows and the depths
where all the black eels hid and the hook-jawed, monstrous pike.

Always, you’d take me in and guide my hand slowly through
the making of a knot, again and again, until I’d get it right
or show me how to patch a broken net before you’d go.
and I’d watch you all down the road, making for the lough
where I knew your boat was waiting and ready for the water.

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