Michael Heffernan

The Luck of the Irish

As I soldiered on, I said
you havenít heard me have you.
The boy with the yo-yo did.
He walked his dog up my street,
stood by my stoop, and hollered
Pipe down!  Then he shot the moon, 
which fell in my lap and died. 

I got that wrong.  The boy went
up the street well past my door
to where his mother called him
Paolo, piccolo mio!
The moon was his motherís face.
The moon was a huge yo-yo.
It caught her between the eyes.

Sympathy for mothers here
is a poignant central theme.
Also for children, whose quest
for the mother is lifelong.
In Ireland once I journeyed
to the Cliffs of Moher, because
my eyes had mistakenly

put a t in , no matter 
how much I stared at the map
in my armchair travels there.
So here I was looking down
into the great grey abyss
of the Mother of Us All
churning up miscarriages,

seal-babies, heartless monsters,
bawling their foamy curses
like murderous spawn of Hell.
I was the one they shrieked at.
They begged me to step over
the slate wall onto the ledge
to drop myself down to them.           

A miracle held me back.
From that moment motherless,
I came home to talk this through.
I became the boy walking
alone.  I was his mother,
and the street we all lived on,
and the moonbeams entering

everyoneís eyes that walked there,
renouncing the lives they lived
and anything else they were
before turning up this street
and hurrying past my door,
as the boy stepped off the curb
to burst among wheeling gulls.


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(Michael Patterson)