Patricia McCarthy

Every Summer
From a sequence, Hand in Hand,
based on the story of
Tristan and Iseult

Every summer I half expect you.
I do not dare focus on too much detail –
your face, your shape silhouetted
with leaves against a noonday sun;
the two years you’ve worn like armour
since last I saw you: inevitable changes.

Every summer I half imagine you
approaching from the skyline to hold me
in your words, looks and easy laughter
that resounds with steeples; concern
rucking horizons where trees, your trees, point
to the naked directions we planned to take.

Every summer I half espy you
in woods bunching wild garlic and celandines;
on ancient burial mounds where I was meant
to have done with you; at the top of tors –
kneeling to the wind, making the view
a vision wise with storytellers.

Every summer I half concoct you –
under stone arches where we still embrace,
in dreams that repeat like a maxim
the surety of loving you. Long grasses
on lane verges bow down to you. But
you never appear. And the summer, turning
inside out its dresses for you, is gone.

Patricia McCarthy was the winner of the National Poetry Competition 2012. Born in Cornwall, and brought up mainly in Ireland, has she lived in
Washington D.C., Paris, Bangladesh, Nepal and Mexico. She now lives in East Sussex, where she edits the prestigious magazine Agenda.