The Velocipede

by Michael Longley

He walks past my bedroom window carrying a spade.
That Joseph Murphy, father of four sets of twins,
Jockey, lover of horses, the gun club’s secretary,
Should hide in his cottage a ledger full of poems
Is hardly surprising: consider his grandfather
Who beachcombed from the strand barrels and spars
And built the first velocipede in Thallabaun.
Out of an umbrella and old sheets he improvised
A parachute, launched himself from the byre roof
And after a brief flight was taken to the hospital.
On home-made crutches and slipping all the tethers
Joseph Murphy’s grandfather swings past my window.

Collected Poems by Michael Longley. Published in 2006 by Jonathan Cape

Last updated February 06, 2012