Heartwarming love poem from Dublin poet Brian Kirk has been named as Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018.
We are more than embracing our sentimental side at IrishCentral as we edge closer to Valentine's Day and the season of love.
In that spirit, we're celebrating the Irish Poem of the Year named recently at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018. From the pen of Dublin poet Brian Kirk, enjoy "Birthday."
You ask if there’s a gift I’d like to mark the passing year,
but how can I demand – no more than you can give –
the turning back of time to when I knew you first?
Not back to the doorway of the Red Cow Inn, when drunk
I pecked you on the cheek and mumbled happy birthday;
not, one year later, when we sat with friends in the Green Man
on St. Martin’s Lane and I stayed quiet, sober. Not back
to when you met me from the train at Euston after my father died,
or sometime after that, when we moved to Highbury on our own;
when we began to drop our masks and make our true selves known.
I think of how we wallowed in our love for years
before the kids arrived and stole our time but gave us
so much more. I was always stealing things,
books from shops, kisses in the backs of taxis,
always wanting something more when I had plenty.
I feared love then, considered it a failing, a retreat, until
I felt it. Though it was buried deep you disinterred
it, breathed life into its musty lungs and made it sing.
I see you as Prometheus, a kind of Doctor Frankenstein
to my ignoble monster, but you did not abandon me when
I reverted to base nature, when others bayed for blood.
You took me back to Dublin and the children came;
they taught me over time to do new things,
to stay up nights and cool a fever, heat a bottle
or simply sit and let the long hours shorten into day.
I want the long hours back but you can’t give me that.
Sometimes I yearn to go back even further,
to a world defined by family, fields and railway tracks,
the sham abandon of the long school holidays.
I want the days to be mid-summer all year long,
those childhood games that lasted until darkness fell
and twilight was a midnight walk back home with
a ball at my feet and my head completely empty.
Each night I close my eyes and we are young again, before time
dragged us down its hungry maw. On waking I can feel I’m falling,
but reaching out into the dark I find you, hold on tight.
Brian Kirk is an award-winning poet and short story writer from Clondalkin in Dublin. His first poetry collection "After The Fall" (Salmon Poetry) was published in November 2017. His poem “Birthday” won the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018. He is a member of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop and he blogs at www.briankirkwriter.com.