Beside the Lee in the heart of Cork
I ducked under a chain
at the top of any old stone steps
and sat o n a spacious slab
to relax with my picnic lunch.
I thrive on being where
one’s got to be careful to be.
But as I touched a juicy sandwich
to my lips, I became engulfed
in the stench of the river below,
a slow-motion fart of civilisation.
Gunk, algae, green-coated shopping carts,
dead tree b ranches dangling slime,
debris from decades of wasteful neglect.
The river’s no longer a river,
an artery, but one plugged putrid sewer –
a fetid indictment of who we are,
of what we do – welcoming to
grey mullet and sandwich
crumbs, not grandchildren.