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At Cross Keys

To Peter Logue

Just when we thought we’d leave, the penny whistle started it
and all of us who’d been half hoping all the evening
turned our chairs half round and paid attention.

The main event — two flutes, a banjo and a bodhran —
kept it up, unflagging, for three hours. In between each tune
a quick discussion, nodding of the heads, and on.

Ice on the roads outside. Mist rising from the Bann.
Within, the curtains closed, the coal fire leaping
and the whole thing happening unplanned

yet riding on consent between the players and the listeners,
the compact we had entered into, there and then:
acknowledging a rarity the room contained.

It broke up about two, with handshakes, hearty thanks.
The drink was in me. I could hear myself.
My English accent felt like nakedness.

Peter, thank God you knew the place. Thank God we ventured out
to seek a bit of music on a Saturday.
The night’s coincidences added up to grace.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author