No Single Story


It’s a slow train from Dublin to Sligo
this fine Friday morning, all filled up
with coffee and laughter and fine conversation
as we pull into Mullingar station,
with hugs and goodbyes,
and even though it’s all English and lovely
we’re speakin’, it’s only about one word
in three I can understand
but that doesn’t matter.

I understand now more than ever
how to put off the sorrow and madness
a little while longer with harmless amusement,
with neighborly cheer and with fond speculation,
how to waken from dreams into journeys,
from journeys to dreams,
maybe sometimes forgetting
that it really doesn’t matter
so much, the arrival,
because what could be better
than this steady bouncing and sharing,
this time between stations
with strangers and friends?


Supper from the Yeats Café,
traditional or fast food,
also take away—various burgers
and various fries,
looks like veggie burgers
and onion rings for us
to eat back in our room
above Hyde Bridge
counting swans and summoning
a companionable ghost.


Nine years under ground
and you floated home
from Nice on a big navy ship,
a corvette called the Macha,
and then how they all turned out
to see your hearse roll
down through town:
Michael Rooney, Jr.,
brother Jack, Ann & Michael,
Georgie, Elizabeth Frances Flanagan, JC.,
alderman, priest and shopkeep—
all business suspended,
offices, schools and shops
all closed.

Walked along Rockwood Parade
and along the path to Louch Gill
Joan of Arc, Grey Wulff and Connemarra Black
tethered there on the south bank.
Off north under gathering clouds
Ben Bulben’s long dark ridgeline
remains as you must have known it.

White moths flutter
under overhanging willows
and trout rise beneath them.

The woods are alive
with linnets’ wings
and the reeds along the far shore
with nesting swans.

Hear it:



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