"Mother, mother," I whisper,
over the years we had won
to a sweet intimacy together.
She would come with me often
to Fintona's first picturehouse,
rigged out like a girlfriend
in her evening finery, snug
in the best seats, munching
soft centred chocolates. Naturally
we chose romances, Sir Laurence
stalking the cliffs in Rebecca,
Leslie Howard defending the South,
courteous through cannonsmoke,
and I thought I might bring her
to some sad story of Brookyln,
the bridge's white mirage shining
over broken lives like her own,
but she wept, and dabbed her eyes:
"I hate films about real life."
Melancholy destiny, indeed.
Young love, then long separation.
After our drive across Ireland,
my father stood in the kitchen,
surrounded by his grown sons
and the wife he had not seen
for almost two decades, spirit
glass in hand, singing ‘Slievenamon'
or Molly Bawn, why leave me pining,
his eyes straying in strangeness
to where she sat, with folded
hands, grey hair, aged face,
Alone, all alone by the wave
washed strand, still his Molly Bawn,
wrought by time to a mournful crone.
Six years later, he was gone,
to a fairer world than this,
and we sat in television darkness,
searching from channel to channel
while the badmen came riding in,
guns glinting in the prairie sun,
or the pretty nurse fell in love
with the subtle handed surgeon
as the emergency was wheeled in -
tho' lonely my life flows on -
and she laughed, reaching down
for the brandy by her side, or
excitedly darting snuff, dust
settling on her apron . . . .