For Seamus Heaney – Letting the silence speak, by Michael Boyle

Letting the silence speak        

(For Seamus Heaney)

We walked that road
with four white
bellowing bullocks
to Bellaghy fair.
Observed your father’s
ruddy complexion,
his trade mark
alder stick and
yellow cattle boots.

In ‘63 I went
to college to major
in physical education
but didn’t make the cut;
And had to transfer
into your English class.

You never walked
but strode the room
in a too-small
chalk-dust gown.
Your signature-
neat shirt and tie,
brown suit,
battered brief case.
You were the poet
fellah from Bellaghy
with black hair, leather
elbow patches on a
Harris tweed sports coat.

You observed my
first teaching practice.
Five students
in the front row
seemed interested
while thirty others
Duffy’s circus
swinging from the rafters,
running and vaulting.
You saw I’d made
a cat’s breakfast
of it all.

Afterwards we met
in that tiny office
and you said.

You must
always let
the silence speak.’

Michael Boyle is a native of Lavey, Derry, Ireland. His poems have appeared in the The Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, Tinteán and New Ulster Writing. He was awarded ‘The Arts and Letters’ prize for poetry in 2014 by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. He currently lives in St John’s New Foundland where he conducts a historical walking tour, see

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