Outside our hotel room
The Liffey waters roll, thick as treacle,
Dark as the blood of Kerry witches,
Black as Cromwell’s soul.

It’s 2 a.m.
A man is screaming
And I can’t tell
If he’s calling out from pleasure
Or from pain.

A shout.
A crash of glass.
Feet running.
A siren wailing
Insistent as a waking child
Filling the darkness
With bright ribbons of sound.

Through all this, dreams come—
Dreams of a baby
Born to a girl
I saw last night
Shivering in O’Connell Street.

Dreams of a baby
Wrapped in a rag
Swimming its way
Down to the sea

Under O’Connell Bridge
In the dark Liffey water,
Past the thin family
Frozen in bronze
And the mangy mongrel
Whimpering at their heels.

Even with her eyes downcast
Even in her misery
And her hunger and her pain
As she treads forever Destitution Road
The thin mother sees
Through the mizzling rain
The drowned baby swimming
Wide-eyed as a seal pup.

It’s 8 a.m.
Propped agains white pillows
I watch far traffic as it flows
A relentless river of rubber and metal
Over O’Connell Bridge.

Grey sky, grey wind,
Grey rain, grey day.

World of monochrome
And one bright red van.