|Doesn't everyone want to stay in a castle at
once and walk between the improbable palms,
past the grazing sheep who crop the golf-short
Our room was not luxurious, the twin beds chaste.
Truly, we stayed in a cell – the castle was a
Dishonoring great grandpa's memory I'd returned,
a deluded tourist of wealth and manors, to the
of his brief incarceration: his crime, a salmon
from the Lord of Blackwater's weir upon the stream.
What's worse, I ask, to steal a fish or seize
Our wardress wore her keys and expected punctuality.
We were as late for breakfast as Daniel Ryan
for the coffin-
ship he almost missed, but he broke gaol and
made it to Cobh
where Winifred Power boarded with him, and they
weevil-burrowed biscuits. After the brig arrived,
they were wed
in Chicopee, Massachusetts, before taking steamers
on Great Lakes
Erie and Michigan. Then stage coach and feet
to Buchanan, Wisconsin.
Our wardress banished us to a table for two, while
pots of tea, black
pudding and white, passed by us at the communal
table of the punctual.
"That's what you get for being late," a Canadian
said, and we laughed,
but I was later than he knew. Later than a century
for America, the Idea,
and Éire, my mother's Eden, where dark
meant only Guinness on tap.
If Daniel and Winifred lacked their passage money
what side would their children have chosen when
the Irish fought
each other? When practical folks settled for
the southern counties
and outraged patriots fought on? I'm guessing
they'd have taken half
a loaf, like a cousin who paid another Paddy
to fight at Antietam.
Descended from wily survivors, I inherit the
guilt of salvation.