Thursday, November 18, 2004

124. Across the Water (poem)

The relationship
has always been uneasy:
a combination
of "showing off" and
bitter disappointment,
worse than sex.

Our people were
never united, always
quarrelling, raiding
for cattle and women;
partial to drink
and slow sad songs.

Years of war,
lands stolen, hauled back,
stolen again; a stony
growth of castles
in every field, a refuge now
for rain-drenched cattle.

Two kingdoms
go their separate ways,
"Old English" become Irish,
intermarry, speak Gaelic,
support harpers, send
children to the neighbours.

"More Irish than the Irish"
this influx of Norman blood,
along with the "O"s and the "Mac"s
continues: Fitzgeralds, Barrys,
Doyles, Joyces, Butlers,
intertwined, indivisible,


The real trouble
begins with Fat Henry's
testicular problems:the simple
inability to father a son
undermines a throne, brings
grief to a distant people.

When relationships go
bad, things start slowly,
then quickly a whole world
collapses: Drogheda,
the Croppies, the Famine --
cold sharp hatred.

What the English can't remember
the Irish can't forget ...

Modern Ireland,
a Celtic Tiger, pounding
out the euros, shouldn't exist.
Just imagine the Indians,
an archaic tribal people
reclaiming the USA.