The Skunk

Heaney follows ‘The Otter’ with a second zoomorphic poem. Alone and cooped up in North Berkeley close to the University there were moments when Heaney felt five thousand miles from home. He uses the nightly presence of a creature not generally regarded as emblematic of love or desire to conjure up the beauty, intensity and sexual appeal of his wife Marie. Think creature think wife from the outset. A bobbing first impression (tail) triggered Heaney’s imagination – something proud and erect (up) with alternating black and white rings (striped), richly textured (damasked) like (a touch of irreverence perhaps from a man who has lost the faith) the Catholic clerical vestment at dire moment (chasuble at a funeral mass). The tail’s […]