Poem by Alan Dowling

March 21, 2013

I took my first step off of Saint Stephen’s Green,
declined a map, a tourist’s map, proffered by my father.
I drifted, solitary in thought, down Grafton,
feeling the tread upon stones, laid by men long forgotten,
underneath my sandaled feet.
My eyes drifted too, shop to shop, stall to stall,
where so many goods fly, far and wide, just as they did so long ago.

When my sandals met the gray, emerald cement at Grafton’s foot,
I, raised on songs and stories,
had no choice but to raise my eyes
and meet the cast bronze gaze of Molly Malone
quizzical, peering at me over the cockles that made her famous long ago.

I step farther and lean out over the Liffy,
peering into the whirl below me.
Wrapped in thought, I feel my remembered ancestors
grip my ankles and hold me fast
as I look back one hundred years over my shoulder at the Grafton that was.

I witness the crack staccato of Eastertide gunfire,
I hear the Angelus Bell toll cross the frenzied river where I stand.
I am pulled back a century more.
I hear the snap of taut rope,
I see the traitor’s trap door vanish beneath the boots of young Emmet.

I am pulled back from reverie, from the other Dublin.
My feet have moved me farther from that than I had realized.
Soon, my sandals will lead me, as if by a leash,
back to my hotel in the Dublin that now stands.
Not yet though.

For now, lost though I am, I wander on,
through the streets unknown to me,
past the buildings I no longer recognized.
I must return, must find my life, my responsibility. My hotel.
But for now, for a moment, I will wander on.


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