The first September of the pandemic,
The sky’s a watercolour, white and grey,
And Pembroke Street is empty, and so is
Leeson Street. This is the time after time,
What the world will look like when the world
Is over, when people have been ushered into
Seats reserved for them in the luminous
                Moving towards the corner of
Upper Pembroke Street and Leeson Street,
An elderly man wears a mask; his walk is
Sprightly, his movements brisk. I catch
His watery eye for a watery moment. 
Without stopping, all matter-of-fact,
He says: ‘Someone told me you were dead.’


From Vinegar Hill by Colm Tóibín (Beacon Press, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Colm Tóibín. Used with permission from Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts.