All my childhood skies were high blue cold
seen from a small walled Belfast yard,
the iron bones of Samson and Goliath,
a stick in an overflowing drain,
my father working between two faiths–
skin as fragile as Palestine peaches.
The eye was stone–
she had lived her life behind barricades
of household furniture and labour rights:
a loose spindle, they docked her a shilling,
still nimble fingers played in a dish
brought by a fifteen year old girl
from a Scottish strand to a marriage bed.
And the white faces, ringed eyes
of the young mill workers
under rows of morning to evening lights,
were so conditioned
they menstruated on the same days.
A voice called out across the wastelands
from Cave Hill to Narrow Water Castle-
here is the wages of bread and agitation:
and the clang of iron on iron from the shipyard
made me freeze like the droplets on my hands
as I thought of my father,
struang out like the broken thread of a loom.