A poem for Aengus Fanning
The Chief was carried out of the Territory this morning
Only wheeling seagulls shadowed the bay as low but insistent gurgles of water
Called for him
Early, with the dawn in January,
A fox sliding round a litterbin alongside a house on the road above,
And the waves chomping at the spit of land
Saying, Aengus is returning to the Deep.
And a ship left the harbour and the lighthouse light was still on
And one swell that drew from out beyond the Kish
Too full for chop or slap or chuckle
Took up his buoyancy and lifted him,
A full swell, without a moan, crossing over the bar.
In the afternoon the swimmers came,
His cohorts, the long distance swimmer warriors
And asked one another, hushed at first:
'Did you hear, and how and why', and 'Good Jesus, didn't we know him?'
But later on, after their swim,
After flapping out towels and hanging out to dry dripping togs,
Massaging pinked and laughing skins,
Tattooing the rocks with their wetted feet,
Shouting songs and taking off on little runs
Like cricketers running to catch the spinning sphere,
Making sidestepping feints – dancers showing off,
After singing: 'I did it my way' – all that kind of manic release
As though falling back with the tide, they called out in dismay:
'How can King Aengus be dead, when here we are, still alive?'
Oh fellow swimmer, flaneur of the Golden Banna Strand
Kingdom; your death still shocks us, your kinsmen.