Sounds of the Day

When a clatter came,
It was horses crossing the ford.
When the air creaked, it was
A lapwing seeing us off the premises
Of its private marsh. A snuffling puff
Ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking,
unblocking a hole in a rock.
When the black drum rolled, it was water
Falling sixty feet into itself.

When the door
Scraped shut, it was the end
Of all the sounds there are.

You left me
Beside the quietest fire in the world.

I thought it was my hurt pride only,
Forgetting that,
When you plunge your hand in freezing water,
You feel
A bangle of ice round your wrist
Before the whole hand goes numb.

Norman MacCaig


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