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The Aerodrome
By Seamus Heaney

First it went back to grass, then after that
To warehouses and brickfields (designated
The Creagh Meadows Industrial Estate),
Its wartime grey control tower blanched and glazed

Into a hard-edged CEO style villa:
Toome Aerodrome had turned to local history.
Barn Loaning, name and laneway,
Disappeared. And the meadows too

Where no man need appear who couldn’t mow
His acre between dawn and dailigone.
Hangars, bomb stores, nissen huts, the line
Of perimeter barbed wire, forgotten and gone.

But not the smell of daisies and hot tar
On a newly surfaced cart-road, Easter Monday,
1944. And not, two miles away,
The annual bright booths of the fair at Toome,

All the brighter for having been denied.
No catchpenny stalls for us, no
Awnings, bonnets, or beribboned gauds:
Wherever the world was, we were somewhere else,

Had been and would be. Sparrows might fall,
B-26 Marauders not return, but the sky above
That land usurped by a compulsory order
Watched and waited — like me and her that day

Watching and waiting by the perimeter,
Snapped in black and white, a torn print,
As if the sky were riven, as if already
The light itself could be no longer trusted.

A fear crossed over then came like the fly-by-night
And sun-repellent wing that flies by day
Invisibly above: would she rise and go
With the airman under his nose-up Thunderbolt

Offering her a free seat in his cockpit?
But for her part, in response, only the slightest
Back-stiffening and standing of her ground
As her hand reached down and tightened round my hand.

If self is a location, so is love:
Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points,
Options, obstinacies, dug heels and distance,
Here and there and now and then, a stance.

Poem available in Salmagundi No. 148-149.
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