A Dog Called Chance

© By Paula Cunningham

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29 August 1998

I’ve jouked into a pub
to avoid the American woman
who’s been shooting sheep and shopkeepers all week.

I’ve seen no monsters here.
The churches are deserted

but for tourists;
when the tall girl sang an Ave
for her boyfriend

- she hid behind a pillar -
it echoed so
I swore I heard an angel.

It’s Saturday.
It’s been two weeks.
A golden labrador’s cavorting in the river

chasing gulls - the grey ones
& the fatter ones with brown spots,
scalloped edges in the pattern on their wings,

tails opening and closing like Chinese fans.
The dog’s called Chance
I swear, I asked its owner -

a great pink tent of a woman with kids -
she tells me that the brownish gulls are youngsters
bigger than both their parents put together.

The woman with the cameras has gone -
I think I’ll travel back first class -
I should be on the train by three

asleep before Dunblane.
It’s lovely here
I had to get away.

I love the way they ask you
where you’re staying
meaning where you live

as if you have a choice.
I think again of leaving
till my face hurts

and I scrounge a cigarette.
In Irish the word for poem’s
the word for gift.

A Dog Called Chance was written on 29 August 1998, two weeks after the Omagh bomb which, on August 15th that year, killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins.

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