It Is What It Is

It is what it is, the popping underfoot of the bubble wrap
in which Asher’s new toy came,
popping like bladder wrack on the foreshore
of a country toward which I’ve been rowing
for fifty years, my peeping from behind a tamarind
at the peeping ox and ass, the flyer for a pantomime,
the inlaid cigarette box, the shamrock-painted jug,
the New Testament bound in red leather
lying open, Lordie, on her lap
while I mull over the rules of this imperspicuous game
that seems to be missing one piece, if not more.
Her voice at the gridiron coming and going
as if snatched by a sea wind.
My mother. Shipping out for good. For good this time.
The game. The plaything spread on the rug.
The fifty years I’ve spent trying to put it together.

from Selected Poems 19682014

About Author

Paul Muldoon
Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. He read English at Queen's University, Belfast, and published his first collection of poems, New Weather, in 1973. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Horse Latitudes (2006). Since 1987 he has lived in the United States, where he is the Howard G. B. Clark Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. From 1999 to 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Paul Muldoon was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in 1996. Other recent awards include the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, and the 2003 Griffin Prize.