In Iowa

The first of three poems alluding to the threats posed by climate-change – the piece recalls a moment from Heaney’s visit to Mennonite country in Iowa. His powers of observation, memory and recall resurrect a scene and a moment in compelling detail. His store of local and biblical references adds a decidedly Mennonite dimension and contributes to his growing conviction that the world is under threat. Stranded in a snowstorm beyond any sign of human presence in Iowa once, among the Mennonites and freed from the ordeal of driving (conveyed all afternoon) Heaney could concentrate on what was rubbing off on him: the sheer volume of snow (slathering – an ingenious sonic porte-manteau, perhaps conveying both the liquidity of ‘slaver’ […]