Monday, April 23, 2012

The Leaving, 1973*

The Leaving, 1973

I never miched before, so it feels strange,
too easy to stay in my seat as the bus pulls
away from my stop (Sandford Park, where the push
is on for the Leaving Cert.). Well out of range,
I hop off, drift downstream on Grafton Street’s
quick/slow shuffling pavements, where I catch
the breath of roasted coffee beans and let
Bewley’s (The Church of Take-The-Weight-Off-Your-Feet)

inhale me. In the basement, lunch money spent
on hot milky coffee and buns, I begin to orient
myself among the tidal people, drag and flow
of conversation, places and to be or go.
For three weeks I hold this course, till I can say
I sat for my Leaving in Bewley’s Oriental Café.

*for Shakespeare on his 448th birthday
who understood 
the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school

Friday, April 13, 2012



Found among my mother's papers,  little card 
less than one inch by two. But thick
and sturdy (a whole generation, a world in that sturdiness).
In clear black print on a battered cream background, the following:

Arrow points to your CORRECT weight
ONLY IF you stand still on platform until
red hand stops before dropping coin.

And the purple-stamped date: 13 APR   which, as it happens, is today’s date
how long (half a century?) later. To the right of this ––
below the bold printed Stones Pounds –– a purple arrow points
at the inch-tape figures, in between 2-6 and 2-7.
And below this, in bigger bolder letters:


O city of my birth, where was she coming from, or going,
what was on her mind, was I pestering her, did she need a pause
in the rhythm of her walking, what made her stop in the quietness
or busyness of a London street to weigh (two-year-old me, presumably)

and slip this into her handbag –– evidence for the jury
who weighs it now standing on the floor, the platform
of her cleared-out bedroom

where he waits for the red hand, the arrow, to stop quivering.