Driving North

© By Paula Cunningham

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Returning late in rain from Connemara,
each time we pass a ‘Welcome to our County’
I slow and sound the horn, a single toot,

Galway toot Mayo toot Sligo…
and I’m explaining ‘Davy did this,
my first real boyfriend, twenty years ago.’

And when approaching sleep you call me sweetie,
I know your friend, your ex, still calls you that,
and later when you flex and click your knuckles

you will tell me of a lover, way back,
who’d twist and stretch so ardently
that each and every vertebra would crack.

And when you make me scratch
your back it’s childhood and your daddy;
the wheaten bread each Saturday’s my ma;

that thing when I touch the back
of your hand with the back of a hot
coffee spoon’s a man I loved abysmally

and that man’s granddad. And this is how it is:
angels and ogres jostle at our shoulders,
anxious for their chance to vanquish time,

and these fleeting appearances, toot, brief
visitations that make us scowl or smile, keep
all of our losses, even our dead, alive.

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