Love Song in Clonakilty

In a bar in Clonakilty
we take our ease in the cool back room.
Sunday on the beach is over –
children sprawl, content for now,
their sunburnt parents, tired and thirsty,
listen to the band play Andy Williams songs.

There’s a call for a song from the floor.
Goaded by friends,
the first volunteer
ignores his family’s embarrassment
and blunders to the stage.
We laugh and cheer;
his wife covers her face with her hands.

At first he sings clumsily to all of us
but then, as the words catch hold,
with a gentle sureness, he sings to her alone –
“I love you as I loved you
when you were sweet sixteen.”

Her hands fall, she looks at him:
he means every word.
For a moment, for an age
it is only these two
in a bar in Clonakilty.

: David Hughes
Born in Bargoed in 1947, he has lived most of his life in or near Swansea where he is a manager in the Mental Health section of the Social Services Department. The poem, ‘Love Song’, is included in his book ‘Tidy Boy’, published in 1998 by Swansea Poetry Workshop.

In a letter allowing us to print his work he states :

“Although the poem was written only a few years ago it refers back to Ireland in August 1975. My wife Gwyneth and I stayed in a flat in Ballineen and on the first full day of our holiday we went down to Clonakilty. It turned out to be one of the hottest days in the year, so after grilling ourselves on the beach for a few hours we went in search of a bar for a cooling drink. The poem describes what occurred. I had not thought about writing a poem until a few years ago. I was doing a poetry reading with an excellent band called The Amigos – who sang the song in question and listening to them stirred me to action.

We have been back to Ireland on a number of occasions but we still regard West Cork as one of the most beautiful and haunting parts.”

Published in The Green Dragon 11, Summer 2002