To Derek Mahon

Flaubert said he could hear the fall
of the words several pages ahead
before he’d even written them.

Your poems felt like that to me
—or should I say, feel like that:
they haven’t died, as you have,

and never will, singer
of backyards, afterlives, banished gods
and the lost places of the earth.

Seeing in inanimate things
a kind of people, you gave
voice to the mute phenomena

— umbrellas, tin cans,
a hubcap by the side of the road
and, unforgettably, mushrooms

in a shed unopened for 50 years.
They too had their lives to live.
You too had your poems to give.

They feel as right as rain.

Derek, your naïve labours
have not been in vain.