Dublin


In Dublin I lost track of my nation

But not my father.

He was standing on O’Connell street

As I boarded a bus

My father’s brown face

Became another

Voice of this city

Left in the rear view

Of History—the bars

Of Behan and the alleyways

Of northside boys

With their exuberant slang.


M father's temperament sweet and bitter

As Irish history, hard as Irish bread;


The Estate mothers gathered

At the corner to share

Gossip, to complain and curse so loud

With fooking this, and fooking that

Even the clouds floating over the Gaol

Muffled their ears.


In Dublin I lost track

Of my nation but not my father,

Walking along the river Liffey. The urn

Inside spilled its dust. My mother a levee

Against the sea of grief. The Irish sea

An unnamable yearning to belong.


As we strolled past black suited bankers

And buskers, kids nodding

On junk in doorways. The streets

Torn apart like dictionaries

As foreign construction workers

Worked on tram tracks,

Shared cigarettes, leaned on shovels

Speaking loud Spanish

& Polish, outside a bakery

Of Italian loaves. My American mother,

A levee against the Irish sea.


And for me too the difference

Between longing and belonging

Is one of keening,

Calling us home.

But what is home,

Or even a nation mean?

Without a parade

Seemingly unimportant

To history as the rain

The small rain, along the quay

That wetted my father’s hair.

As my mother, head scarfed

Against the Irish wind,

Leaned her shoulder into him.

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