By Harry Clifton b. 1952 Harry Clifton
Would you believe it, I got lost again   
And all roads led to Rakestreet. Which was which,   
The short road or the long? A girl of ten   
Behind her counter, drew me a thumbnail sketch   

Of space in time. The Big House was, she said,   
Five minutes away, or seven hundred years.   
Nephin, nebulous in its hat of cloud,   
A reference point. I would never get out of here   

Unless I fell in love with my condition—   
Rakestreet, with its boy behind the bar,   
Its sweatshop, and its permanent television   
In the background, rumbling from afar   

Of war and worldly sex, greed and ambition,   
While the dead slept under lichened stone   
Behind Kilmurry chapel. Older than religion,   
Older than history, this quiet need to atone   

By staying local, once at the very least,   
For an hour, a day, a lifetime. Marry the girl,   
Buy up the stock, become one with the deceased—   
Let Crossmolina and the Big House world   

Be damned to its own eternity, Lough Conn   
Forever signaled, never come upon,   
Lose itself, like the reason I came   
In the first place, and my aboriginal name.

Source: Poetry (March 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2009
 Harry  Clifton


Harry Clifton was born in Dublin and attended Blackrock College and University College, Dublin. His collection of poems, Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004 (2007), won the Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2008. His other honors include the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award and two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. He is a member of Aosdána, the Irish artists’ association. Clifton is the author of the poetry pamphlet Null . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Life Choices


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