Lit-Mag #40 – Expatriations: The expat edition
The Ghost Ship
after Dorothy Cross
the lights of the city
surround the ship
coming to Dun Laoghaire
it has passed the eye
I am nearly eight
I feel her joy
in coming home
it is after midnight
we pull into harbour
the ship sounds
a heavy horn
men haul planks
I am so happy
we are all of us home
before the dawn
from the rough voyage
we slept some
on leather chairs
and on the floor
and in the bar
with the other Irish
with swaying beer
with black anticipation
the big ship
green-lit and white
quiet in the water
she has pulled in
we gather our cases
dad has changed
his suit is black
the hunter-moon greets us
but no family comes
How did the ground feel, father,
in London, concrete under your feet,
after the green lanes to the house,
the deep, slow meadows to the crocus-rimmed pond?
And when you returned home in July
did the rhythm of hill-walking cradle your insteps?
Mine knew the difference and they told the earth.
What is that in the field there,
glinting in the corner of my eye
and ahead punctuating the green?
It is too tall for hay, and these stalks
are thick and cut into like a quarry;
it’s not a gold mine though this seam is wide
and whenever I see the swathes of this thing,
especially from a train or car on a late-summer’s
day, the only movement is on the surface
where it seems lighter, like coral in seawater,
or a profound heart that is never given away.
And then I remember. This is barley.
My father talked about it. Walking across it cut,
he said, was like walking through fire.