For Caitriona Crowe

First, this old clock. As I dismantle it,
A child of indeterminate age
On the garage floor, the cogs and flywheels
Buzz, the hour-hands race and stop,
Go back on themselves,
And I peer, like a little god,
In the workings of time. Steady,
The ticking starts, suburban days
Falling into place
Like memory. Glass front doors
And front room windows
Are black depths, to be looked into
Afterwards, when the time is right.
But for now, each pebbledashed house
Is a Freudian box of tricks,
Pre-conscious, locked in itself,
Respectable, safe, like Nineteen Fifty Six.

Pounds and ounces, pennyweights and grams—
A grocer’s measuring instruments
Sift reality, slicing ham
And butter, trowelling sugar in brown paper bags
For all of us blow-ins, on whom the hag
Has roosted, the hag of Ireland,
Stateless… Lord Redesdale,
Whoever you were, you gave us the myth of a State,
You left us your name
To conjure with, on your sold estate,
And fled to England, clutching the deeds.
DeValera set us down here, and bade us breed.

A new generation. A clean slate
For history to write on. Non-attachment
Our middle name. Sleepless, we hear
The cattle-drive, to the milking-sheds
Of Stillorgan, in the early hours,
Like the lost morning of a mythic race
Our fathers snore through. De Valera,
Give us our pasteurised milk, and cleanse our blood
Of impurities. Banish the gypsy horses,
Their mounds of fertile dung,
From our gardens. Tinsmiths’ fires
Will burn themselves out, the caravan train move on—
Give us leave to live here…
                                          O the pain
That first winter of consciousness—
Snowballs, tainted with copper sulphate,
Crash against my ears. The Zen command
To awaken! Child, it is too late
To run in tears to Mother.
She points to the orphans, filing through the estate
From nowhere to nowhere, shadowed by Sisters
Terrible in their winged headgear
Out through the age of innocence, into the years
Undreamt by De Valera, Connolly, Pearse.