(Western Riverina 1982)
A girl with lakes and lichen in her voice
and when she spoke of home I rode again
through mists below Dunloe.
But here we shared a Greyhound pause, a choice
of tables near a window – sprayed-on snow
with Christmas reindeer six months late and chairs
where beetroot bled on vinyl, breakfast stains
smeared circular on laminex. Between
the Christmas bells and throbbing juke-box we
remembered Kerry, Ladysview and fells
that funnel wind to corrugate Lough Leane.
We spoke of Sligo pipers, then a Mohawk bought
another hour’s percussion. Kitchen steam
dewed sleigh and Christmas bells.
I thought she might return, see friends and stay
in Sligo for a while. “Go back again?”,
she smiled through plastic gladioli and her eyes
went out through ﬂicking neon, past the sprayed
and faded Christmas greetings, past the flies
feet up on window sills. This girl who’d seen
the copper-beeches glow at Coole and rain
on Inisfree looked out beyond the frayed,
stained bunting sagging over tarmac and
saw trucks diminish in the distance where
the saltbush met the sky, halfway to Hay.
“What, after this? God, no!”, her eyes returned
from kitsch and bitumen. “Go back? No way!
There’s nothing like this there”.