Matthew Sweeney

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Ireland | 2006

Matthew Sweeney was born in Donegal, Ireland in 1952. His poetry collections include A Dream of Maps (1981), A Round House (1983),Blue Shoes (1989), Cacti (1992), The Bridal Suite (1997) and A Smell of Fish (2000). Selected Poems, representing the best of 10 books and 20 years’ work, was published in 2002. He won a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and an Arts Council Writers’ Award in 1999. Matthew Sweeney was Poet in Residence at the National Library for the Blind as part of the ‘Poetry Places’ scheme run by the Poetry Society in London. His latest poetry collections are Sanctuary (2004) and Black Moon (2007), the latter shortlisted for the 2007 T. S. Eliot Prize.

Report 2006

EXCAVATION Somewhere in these woods a crashed plane is buried in undergrowth, the wings broken off, black crosses still visible to anyone who’d hack down to see them, and if this person were then to excavate the crushed cockpit, liberate the broken skeleton, prop it up against a pine tree, a low humming would be heard above the flies and bees, a humming that took on German, that danced about on the wind while the tail, with its black crosses, was dug out of roots, grass, fallen branches as gunfire once again filled these hills after sixty years, and shells and tracer flew overhead, but no tree would be hit, nor would fires whoosh through leaves to the delight of the fool in the hill castle out with his grappa on the rooftop, Marlene blaring through the speakers singing to the crashed pilot in the woods. VANESSA ATALANTA Already November, and the last red admiral is flapping around the light. Its mate sits dead, wings folded, in the bottom corner of the window. No poking will resurrect it. Above it a bee, almost dead, clings to the glass. The flier pirouettes in the hot air, flashing open its red and white frescoes, then closing to the black wings that mimic its dead brother, above whom the bee, in a last campaign, moves stiffly across the glass, too tired for flight, hanging on, now that the heating’s activated which might give Vanessa Atalanta another day to open and close its gaudy lungs, dance figures of eight in the air, a diminutive Italian Richthofen, showing off to itself and to the light it lands on, but never for long, until it’s dried and baked there.