To Pablo Neruda in Tamlaghtduff

  Following the taste of ‘Fiddleheads’ that Heaney defined as ‘erotic’ in a piece to a Japanese friend he provides a further moment of uncontrolled pleasure –  something exquisite that came from something markedly unlovely. Heaney had received a gift from a local acquaintance: crab-apple jelly from a tree he can locate at Duff’s Corner and, for all he knows, still grows there. The produce was little short of miraculous (I never once saw crab apples on the tree). Heaney provides the crab-apple tree with an unflattering ‘reference’ – perverse of nature (contrary), showing little sign of fertility (unflowery), standing out like an implement used to scare off flies (sky whisk) or a rough brush (bristle), a haphazard criss-cross profile […]