Two Poems

Raymond Friel

A World Fit to Live in

With his ‘shopping list’, my son makes us stop
At choice hedges, a particular weed.
He does not share my anticipation.
In the long shadows, a man tends a grave
With brisk affection, his jacket folded
Inside out, specs high on his balding head.

The white horse, behind us on its hillside,
Is summoning the nerve for a great leap.
Outside St Michael’s, the party workers
In panamas and printed frocks sit round
With iced lemonade, clipboards on the grass.
Masses of bruised clouds move in from the east.

His Parents’ Bed

Pre-nuptial, ‘in Rome’, she gamefully bunked
On the ground floor with Mary O’Connell –
Great-granny, chain-smoker, Irish rebel;
Her room like a souvenir stall at Lourdes.
Post, she stared at the red glow of the time,
Frozen beside him in immaculate sheets;
While through the mumbling wall, his parents
Pulled out sleeping bags in their makeshift dorm.

Still awake in the small hours, they listened
As the Orange Hall spilled onto the street:
A volley of car doors; ‘No Pope of Rome’
Breaking out in raw unison; a fight.
He stirred towards her and apologised;
To find, through duvet, unfamiliar bone.