At 18, I wore a bunch of them –– pendants
on a leather thong. I wanted secrets
to keep, the jingle, the little teeth
turning the pins, old
tangible symbols. As if I might learn to belong
by playing at being warder
to a makeshift life: the front door
to my first home, ‘Rockville’ (the only one
with an actual name); the flat
with a fire escape that stopped short
of tousled, fogbound gardens, a neighbour
calling her cat in 1974;
the padlock that released, from Stephen’s Green,
one buckled bicycle wheel;
the cardboard and leather suitcase I inherited
from grandfather, who’d kept it
under his bed, perhaps so he could sleep
on old letters, tinted postcards,
a big brass paddle and key
to a hotel room high in The Windy City.
(previously published in The Yellow Nib)
They’ve planted a low-maintenance Mohawk wall
along the drive to his school.
In blustery November, ashen stalks
click their fingers and walk
the wind through its steps –– feathery plumes
shiver and flounce with each shock
that ripples into waves –– fields of industrial crops:
breadbaskets, whole continents
where the dance is unconstrained
as a tribe of unbroken horses tossing their manes:
borderless movements that will lift
and set a person’s gaze winging, adrift.
Walking home through the soft-rumbling city –– Peckham shading to Camberwell –– the tone shifts, furry growls rising and falling, showing their teeth. In a street-lit car park a fox is finishing the remains of a discarded takeaway (chips and what looks like part of a burger). Silent. It’s the cats that are growling. Maybe ten, a feral gang all hackles and hisses. Edging in then backing away, lawful. Fox is oblivious, alone with its kill in the middle of a night-filled acre, the village asleep, the bypass breathing slow.
Mark Granier has published three collections of poetry, Airborne (Salmon, 2001) The Sky Road (Salmon, 2007) and Fade Street (Salt, 2010). His awards include the New Writer Poetry Prize, the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. He currently teaches creative writing in UCD. Mark is on Twitter @MarkGranier and his photo journal is Skyroad.