Each time you gesture forth new sushi
your arm is a slice of marinated ginger
in the shopping centre sky. Your head
bowed is a pool of soy spiked with wasabi,
directing all eyes to a heaven above
in which intricate details of sushi
embellish an infinite loop, angels
on inclined travelators gradually soar
feathered with purchases. There is no hour
of opening and no end. We need not consider
beyond, where mountains ascend and are stunted,
garnished in places with the missing dead.
Or how growing up we expected to find them,
sour in hollows on walks among pine.
How we’d been told a car might glide
as though driverless, as though infinitely past us,
but slide to a stop. Swing open its door, absorb
us by our own careless movements, as if in a trance.
Unless we’d been warned. Which is why
you transcribe it so carefully in whorls
of rice and seaweed for the newcomers,
colour-coding plastic dishes by their cost.
Near the house where I grew up there is a small park, remnant of a sizeable estate that was last the property of the Shaw-Smiths. In one direction it looks onto the harrumphs of hill that are the Dublin Mountains. Up there as a child I imagined (because I was told to imagine) the places one might hide a murdered body. Dog-walkers turn endless laps of the park and Spanish students congregate in summertime. The rogue trees, the ones not on the plans for the park, were planted by my rogue father. Authorities have drained the places where the Poddle pooled. Once, improbably, I walked up to the park in a mist and found a saxophonist seated on a rock, playing his heart out. Once I met a stray hen.
A plaque in the mountain above the park reads: Honor Bright, Rest in Peace. Eva Brennan Antoinette Smith Layla Brennan. Elaine O’Hara Patricia Doherty Patricia Furlong. Patricia O’Toole Jo Jo Dullard Annie McCarrick. Annie McCarrick Jo Jo Dullard Patricia O’Toole. Patricia Furlong Patricia Doherty Elaine O’Hara. Layla Brennan Antoinette Smith Eva Brennan. Honor Bright Rest in Peace. Rest in Peace Honor Bright.
Honor Bright, née Lizzie O’Neill, was shot in the head and left in a ditch in 1925. From the park in the other direction, you can see Dublin city as far as the sea. In the foreground Dundrum Town Centre is lit up Disney blue for Christmas. I spent my childhood waiting for that shopping centre. I knew it was coming. I’d been promised. And a tram into town and a futuristic bridge. By the time it was all built I’d moved away anyway.
That absurd and beautiful shopping centre has everything to do with the landscape from which it emerges and is scrubbed of its every trace. That shopping centre knows its history as well as I do. As well as I know mine. Our child was born far from here. When he turned one year old,we brought him back to Ireland to show him off and show him his roots. The sun shone and our child ran for us, screaming with pleasure, on the fake grass at the Dundrum Town Centre.