© By Gerald Dawe

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They call this ‘Black North’,
black from the heart out.
It doesn’t matter about
particularities when mouths
mumble the handy sayings
and day-in minds tighten.
I’ve been here having thought
nowhere else was possible,
a condition of destiny or what
the old generations only fumbled
with: conceit, success, a fair
share of decent hardship,
forced into fierce recognition –
the cardhouse toppled.

In this extreme, perched
on the edge of the Atlantic,
you feel to look down
and gather round the details,
thinking to store them away,
bundle and pack in the exile’s way –
the faithful journey
of turning your back
like the host of others,
the scholars and saints.
Line up and through the turn-
stile, click the ticket
and wait till you’re clear of it.
You need never recall the other names.

© Gerald Dawe, Names, 1978, complete text, Sheltering Places, 1978 & 2008, The Starling Press.

Gerald Dawe reflects on the temptation to leave Ireland.

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