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My Grandfather’s WakePaul Muldoon
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Vol. 7 No. 2 · 7 February 1985
Poem

My Grandfather’s Wake

Paul Muldoon

114 words

If the houses in Wyeth’s Christina’s World
and Mallick’s Days of Heaven
are triremes, yes,
triremes riding the ‘sea of grain’,
then each has a little barge
in tow – a freshly-dug grave.

I was trying to remember, Nancy,
how many New England graveyards you own,
all silver birch
and neat, white picket-fences.

If only that you might make room
for a nine-banded armadillo
found wandering in Meath
sometime in the 1860s;
a man-ox, a fish with three gold teeth
described by Giraldus Cambrensis.

Our cow chained in the byre
was a galley-slave from Ben Hur
to the old-fashioned child of seven
they had sent in search of a bucket of steam.

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