Seamus Heaney calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Cloudburst and steady downpour now

COUNSELOR: So you’re calling to talk about the weather?

CALLER: for days.

COUNSELOR: Right. If you want to talk to days, I may need to transfer you to another counselor when my shift ends.

CALLER: Still mammal,

COUNSELOR: That’s correct. I don’t think we have any birds or reptiles working today.

CALLER: straw-footed on the mud,

COUNSELOR: I don’t know what shoes the other counselor will be wearing.

CALLER: he begins to sense the weather / by his skin.

COUNSELOR: Um, yes. If you go out in the rain, your skin will feel it.

CALLER: A nimble snout of flood

COUNSELOR: So there’s rain up your nose?

CALLER: licks over stepping-stones

COUNSELOR: So you’ve got a dog out in the rain? They love that.

CALLER: and goes uprooting.

COUNSELOR: So you need to get him out of your garden. Do you have any dog treats?

CALLER: He fords

COUNSELOR: No—you want him out of the garden, but don’t encourage him to chase cars.

CALLER: his life by

COUNSELOR: Yeah, it could risk his life. Can you call him? What’s his name?

CALLER: sounding.

COUNSELOR: You mean Sounder? Like in the book?

CALLER: Soundings.

COUNSELOR: That’s a strange name for a dog, but OK.


From “Gifts of Rain” by Seamus Heaney

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