Tuesday 19 April 2022



"The duty of a writer is to remind us that we will die.

And that we aren't dead yet." Solmaz Sharif

I fell with my chair outside A Brasileira,

slumped to flagstones as it tipped a ledge

beside the coffee shop frequented by

Fernando Pessoa. A woman near me

was sipping a clear drink I thought was schnapps

until she told me later it was port.

As for Pessoa, he sat there impassive

under his trilby, taking nothing in.


But others reached out to lever me from 

my prone position: half-a-dozen hands

descended towards me in slow motion, faces

full of solicitude looked down on me. 

A voice called Gently, gently, lift him gently. 

Out of nowhere, a doctor declared himself, 

inspected the wrist which bore my tumble’s brunt,

said I was fine and recommended ice.

I felt well enough to finish my brioche

despite some pain and discombobulation,

but I thought it churlish of Pessoa

to sit there dandily indifferent,

a simulacrum, while a fellow poet

plummeted on a ledge-forsaking chair

to possible perdition from the platform

I visited in portly pilgrimage.

It was mid-morning. Not having touched a drop,

even of clear port, I was clear-headed

enough to catch Pessoa’s quiet response

to my hasty umbrage at his disregard:

Beaten in bronze and far beyond the year

of grace I was given to ghost through Lisbon, 

I, too, would have liked to lend you a hand.

My dilemma was, and remains, that I am dead.

© Ciaran O'Driscoll 2022