Harry Clifton

Rakestreet - Poem by Harry Clifton

Would you believe it, I got lost again
And all roads led to Rakestreet. Which was which,
The short road or the long? A girl of ten
Behind her counter, drew me a thumbnail sketch

Of space in time. The Big House was, she said,
Five minutes away, or seven hundred years.
Nephin, nebulous in its hat of cloud,
A reference point. I would never get out of here

Unless I fell in love with my condition—
Rakestreet, with its boy behind the bar,
Its sweatshop, and its permanent television
In the background, rumbling from afar

Of war and worldly sex, greed and ambition,
While the dead slept under lichened stone
Behind Kilmurry chapel. Older than religion,
Older than history, this quiet need to atone

By staying local, once at the very least,
For an hour, a day, a lifetime. Marry the girl,
Buy up the stock, become one with the deceased—
Let Crossmolina and the Big House world

Be damned to its own eternity, Lough Conn
Forever signaled, never come upon,
Lose itself, like the reason I came
In the first place, and my aboriginal name.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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