Visiting Hours

My sister Jean writes poetry. Here’s an autobiographical poem she wrote about her visit to me here in Norway, at New Year’s (exactly 3 months ago). I should probably give some background before you read it, although I know that’s not always necessary to do that. Basically, Jean had a weird experience here: the winter was strangely mild for a start, and then, before she could see many of the tourist sights, she got sick and spent her holiday time in two different hospitals! But they let her go eventually…

Visiting Hours (For Barry)
The last night that we stayed
Drinking in your friends
Late around a table,
In your afterlife
Of our shared childhood;
A ghost whispered,
“Tar du det?”
What was my souvenir?
I slept in silent hospitals,
And woke among my favourite books;
Heard ancestral singing
In the painted echoes
Of a tomb;
And numbness, like a metaphor,
Meant I never reached
The tall stone in twilight’s distance,
Nor climbed through Narnian attics
Above communal spaces;
Nor travelled to the harbour
To see the ships of centuries
Long passed between our shores.
What was I to take?
Bloodlines share old stories,
Strange land would call me home;
Did I leave before I listened?
I left before
The first deep fall
Of snow.
Jean Kavanagh, Oslo, Jan 2007

Barry Kavanagh writes fiction, and has made music, formerly with Dacianos.

Contact him here.