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Christopher Buckley

BPR 51 | 2024

Photo: Seamus Heaney, St. Thomas’s Intermediate School, 1962

It’s not even raining, and that may be enough
for happiness, no matter how cramped or dead-end
these terrace houses look opening on the street . . .
for joy just being young on the planet, though you
have next to nothing. . . . Or it could only be school
letting out, discovering a sister-in-law’s come by
with a camera to document teacher-man, catch
the unrestrained jubilation rushing around him
like the blood through these kids, gleeful and mad-hat
happy to be commemorated in their days? Your first
accredited job, someone in the world at last, but
who is really teaching whom about what counts?

You’re 23, also just a kid, beaming ear to ear like
a dog with two tails for all you love and are worth,
and, as you’ll recall, no potatoes are too small. . . .
But wouldn’t you barely know yourself, black & white
in Belfast, more lighthearted and blissful among these
children than you’re likely to ever be again? Where
this leads you’ve no idea—for now, it’s surely grand.
And despite all you’ll work toward and brilliantly bring
to light—time, the burden of our lives as we lose them—
you’d step back, the photo says, into the impoverished air,
doing for others, regardless what a future holds, to be
this irredeemably happy in such a moment, here again.