13 APRIL 1991, Page 36

Field of Vision

I remember this woman who sat for years In a wheelchair, looking straight ahead Out the window at sycamore trees unleafing And leafing at the far end of the lane.

Straight out past the TV in the corner, The stunted, agitated hawthorn bush, The same small calves with their backs to wind and rain, The same acre of ragwort, the same mountain.

She was steadfast as the big window itself.

Her brow was clear as the chrome bits of the chair.

She never lamented once and she never Carried a spare ounce of emotional weight.

Face to face with her was an education Of the sort you got across a well-braced gate - One of those lean, clean, iron, roadside ones Between two whitewashed pillars, where you could see Deeper into the country than you expected And discovered that the field behind the hedge Grew more distinctly strange as you kept standing Focused and drawn in by what barred the way.

Seamus Heaney