Thomas Mann Country

Eithne Strong
You can walk the canal path from Lubeck to Hamburg and with you all the way go great poplars; the life span of their kind
I do not know but their giant rustling seems as news of centuries; the water
carries Baltic lore under their imaged shapes.
In Thomas Mann country trees flourish to rich height, their drink the lakes, their food alluvium of aeons; their multiplicity of birds seem not to sleep in June for, wakeful, you hear them cheep the short night, chutter until quick light when, transcendently,
they celebrate -an energy of joy, unique.
A generous place: portions pile your plate.
In the Saturday square a travelling troupe mimes
a parody to medieval instruments. Hard by, a simmer of smoked sausages, a row of mustards-all hot
in a cool June. You eat yours funnelled in bread
by the cathedral wall, decide to move southwards.
The canal stems villages, buildings flower either side; gardens replicate symmetry, the irregular has, it seems,
no countenance in this land: dawn hears workers on their scheduled way to responsible field or city hours. Plan
and produce, a positive programme. Sunday, in a burst of shrubs, the timbered tiny church. Pulled by its age,
you enter, notice dates, variety of ancient patterning
on wood, hand-painted; the brushed and tailored gathering. You stay to hear. Later, in your white bed, wakeful
as the night-long chutter in the trees, you keep seeing
that savage passion of the preacher who flashed his fist
and yelled at the unanswering assembled faces.
Page 93, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 26