Hopkins in Dublin
In language I could never hope to replicate,
You chipped the frozen mud off of your robe, to find
The black stained brown, like watermarks on sepia,
Because all our vocations have their waste products:
The blue books piled up like a smirking parody
Of Snowdon; streams of city slime on cobblestone;
Untold, untelling faces, blank with bleak distaste.
The sun would set while you were still in class, I’m sure.
You’d limp to hours, mouthing the creeds as if they were
Excreted, centuries ago, onto the shores
Of some distant, imaginary sea. The host’s
Taste lingered like cigar smoke in your mouth when you
Woke up and slid again to hours in the dark.
The trail you left behind—the half-erased gray lines
Of graphite on the back of your exams—appears
To disappear on Gardiner Street, submerged beneath
Whatever cyclical flood-tide engulfed you like
The overflowing Liffey. But praise God for those
Who traced the track and fished your words out of the mud.