Bona Fide Travellers

Bernard O’Donoghue

For Eileen

It meant you had to be from somewhere else
To get a drink. But that was all right for us;
We always were, whether travelling west
Or east. The trouble came when, dozing
On the boat, you half came round and saw
The seabirds bathing, the gannet plunging
Towards his bath, and battalions
Of unknown children, speaking in accents
Different from their parents’. Your book
Has fallen on the floor, the John Hinde
Postcard (from either side to other:
‘Wish you were here!’) has fallen out
And now you’ve lost your place.

In the real world, of course, there’s no such person
As a bona fide traveller. They will pull
The glass out of your hand and order you
To go back to the place you came from,
Whatever you might have called that at the start.