The first thing we had to clear was the one
he prized the most: the cluttered pinewood bar
he’d salvaged from a neighbour moving on
at the end of the nineteen seventies.
Embalmed in a gloopy coat of varnish
that set to a brittle sheen, it lacked retro chic,
scuffed down to the wood along its edges,
its surface crazed with memories.
In the days when family came to stay
it placed him centre stage, measuring out
precisely his perfect Irish coffees
or each medicinal dose of whiskey.
And yet, for all its high-stool bonhomie,
we dumped it, an eyesore for the viewers –
then missed a convenient shelf, sorting mail
that even now in his posthumous life
makes him offers he can’t refuse.
Behind it was a glory hole that clanked
to the music of jumbled glasses
and the unopened bottles of quare stuff
brought back from their hols by others –
when his own preference was Jameson’s,
Paddy’s, the rank poitín he cracked open
for me in a conspiratorial hush.