23 SEPTEMBER 1995, Page 39

A Call

`Hold on,' she said, 'I'll just run out and get him. The weather here's so good, he took the chance To do a bit of weeding.'

So I saw him Down on his hands and knees beside the leek rig, Touching, inspecting, separating one Stalk from the other, gently pulling up Everything not tapered, frail and leafless, Pleased to feel each little weed-root break, But rueful also . . .

Then found myself listening to The amplified grave ticking of hall clocks Where the phone lay unattended in a calm Of mirror glass and sunstruck pendulums . . .

And found myself then thinking: if it were nowadays, This is how Death would summon Everyman.

Next thing he spoke and I nearly said I loved him. Seamus Heaney