“The Journey” by Derek Coyle

Maybe it was the whiskey,
the fact I was tired.
I had risen early
to do some work.

The walls disappeared,
the marble fireplace,
the bookcases, tv and sofa,
and in their place,
green fields, fog and snow,
the journey by bus to my old university.

We go through Johnstown,
Naas, Sallins.
At Clane, half-way there, he gets on.
I can smell him.
Aftershave, shower gel, deodorant
—I don’t know.
No matter where he sits on the bus
I can smell him.
When he sits beside me
I cannot speak.

Unlike Flaubert,
I have no perfumed slippers
preserved in a drawer.
Some trace in the room
must have taken me there
through an unseen portal.

Maybe it was the whiskey.
I was tired.
His scent filled the room
despite the years.
As the bus stopped
my heart leapt.

Derek Coyle has published poems in Irish Pages, The Texas Literary Review, Cuadrivio, Wordlegs, The SHOp, Burning Bush 2, Glitterwolf, Skylight 47, Assaracus, Chelsea Station, RFD, and fathers and what needs to be said. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award (2010, 2014, 2015), the Bradshaw Prize (2011), and in 2012 he was a chosen poet for the Poetry Ireland ‘Introductions Series.’  In 2013 he was runner up in the Bradshaw Prize. He is a founding member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative.