Derek Mahon



      A Stone Age Figure Far Below


Through heaving heather, fallen stones
From the wrecked piles of burial cairns
As they fly over the moors--
Racing about in cloud shadow,
A stone age figure far below
Wildly gesticulating as if
He sees, at last, a sign of life
Or damns them to hell-fires.

When they come with poles, binoculars, whistles,
Blankets and flasks, they will find him dead--
Unkempt, authentic, furnace-eyed
And dead, and his heavy flint hearth-stones
Littered with dung and animal bones;

Or a local resident out for a walk
In tweeds and a hunting hat. 'You must be
Mad,' he will say, 'to suppose this rock
Could accommodate life indefinitely.
Nobody comes here now but me.'


Derek Mahon, Selected Poems, Penguin Books, 2006.