These days in Ireland, people talk
about the price of sites,
the cost of Charlie Haughey
or foreigners… Gypsies:
lazy people come for our riches,
who won’t work. They steal,
eat raw from our fields,
blacken o ur reputation and
colour the skin of our children.

I am Sonia, a Gypsy woman
who dreamed colours and grew up
gathering berries in a village
in Romania. I earned my way
to university to become a doctor
and the pride of my mother’s heart.

My father never had a nation
and died in Auschwitz.

I was arrested with a bundle
of leaflets and when I had to flee
to Ireland, I was sad:
not to be a doctor,
not to visit my mother’s grave,
to marry an Irishman.

I have never stolen.
I am spring clean, stalk strong,
proud and honest as
the memory of snails and owls
in our desolate garden.

I fled when a sneering bullet
ended my mother’s life. She died
at the mean will of our state—
in our house—in my place.

Now, I can only shelter
behind my husband’s curtains
in a childless fourth-floor flat
before closing time in Dublin.

I still see my uncle
with his shining sickle
in shirt sleeves.

My husband in Ireland,
you gave me my first passport
and beat me daily:
—for the sighs and secrets
in our troubled death-songs
…like Irish songs,
—for my childhood in fields,
—for our hawks, falcons and silver,
—for the poetry in our people.

I should be able to talk
in the shops, but
they listen away from my accent.
I cannot tell them of our winters,
of our trees whistling like
the shades of accordion music.

I have learned to hide
behind candles in churches;
to disappear into the woodwork
or to listen to the distant patience
in the singing of
                                        my ancestors:

homeless in Romania
homeless in Serbia
homeless inland
homeless in Germany
homeless in the East
homeless in France
homeless in Italy
homeless in the West
homeless in England
homeless in Russia
homeless on the coast
homeless in Bulgaria
homeless in Albania
homeless in the North
homeless in Europe
homeless in the South
homeless in Ireland.

The flowers have gone out
on another summer.
I am a year closer to my mother.