The Butts

In conjuring up fragments of existence from his past Heaney recalls two scenes relative to his father: the fully active man revealed by the contents of his dead-man’s wardrobe; the family’s shared care for the dying man.  Familiar odours trigger a set of involuntary memories in Heaney who sees himself ‘invading’ his father’s wardrobe and, thereby, his privacy. His father’s everyday wear reveals both his nature and his stature: suits… broad/And short; suits of familiar cut and slightly bandy-sleeved; hanging in orderly fashion: Flattened back/ Against themselves; clothes that reveal his father’s natural aloofness: A bit stand-offish. The tobacco and under-arm odours lingering in the enclosed space (Stale smoke and oxter- sweat/) Came at you, strongly, in a stirred-up brew.  Emboldened, Heaney reached in (the phrase’s full impact […]