Seán Hewitt

Seán Hewitt


There are knives in the night –
ghosts, the air sword-fighting 
with itself. I wake alone, call 
the lift and descend in its box 

of light to the empty street, 
somewhere on the cusp 
of a dream, passing through 
the turnstile’s white iron star 

to the field, bladed with ice, 
and then I hear it… the dark clicking 
the sockets of the hawthorns, 
and in the holm-oaks, a dull 

thwack of bone on bone, the rush
of leaves as a branch is flung 
and shattered: the young deer 
rutting, one shadow hurled 

into the next, and I am cleaved 
in the sweat, in the steam 
of their bodies. Now, again,
I break as they lock the cross 

of their sex in place. Who is it 
that splinters out and steps
towards them? What new soul 
is fractured from the sound?


For years in secret I had longed 
to shake the safehold, to cast
myself among the battery
as though love in its arms 

held me back; and here
in the aftermath, stampeded,
I found a crow’s egg fallen 
from the nest, smeared

among the broken 
stems of yellow archangel 
I knelt to – the furred hoods 
of the flower held over 

the streaked red tongues –
their little pietàs of pollen
dashed on the soil like the ends 
of my wanting, and I was meshed 

in guardianship –
the desolation of the hooves – 
all the soft parts blood powers 
through – and I came home 

to find you waiting. All night, 
like God into a flower, like God
into a bird, I tried to throw myself
out of myself and into my word.


In autumn I will come back, 
alone, for the snapped 
antler, the blown prostate 
of a chestnut shell, yellowed 

and bitter underfoot, 
and see only the trees 
ruining over lacerated 
ground. And I will recall

the bulge of the stag’s 
throat sliding up with each 
grunt hollow, and push 
my fingers into their lashed 

wood for the musk 
of those hot glands, 
the stain of urine smeared 
from the furry sheath, 

and taste in it 
a memory of violence, 
its urgent expenditure 
here, where now 

mist and quiet 
are the only wanderers
copulating in fall’s 
patient, declining land.

AN HEWITT was born in 1990. His debut collection, Tongues of Fire, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2020. He is a book critic for The Irish Times and teaches Modern British & Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin. In 2020, he was chosen by The Sunday Times as one of their “30 under 30” artists in Ireland. Tongues of Fire was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, a Dalkey Literary Award, and won The Laurel Prize in 2021.