Every Christmas, the long journey
—interest and boredom in equal measure—
passage punctuated by the tease and the elbow,
or the almost touch, between four little angels,
ensconced in the back seat of our father's car.
With each town, the annual pilgrimage route reinforced:
mother happy and confident, father resigned
to being the half accepted cuckoo
once more in the mother's nest.
The first sign is a fairy fort,
standing circular, in a linear ploughed field
and then we cross the Shannon river,
and the roadside walls reveal themselves
as boulder stone, and we are now in the West;
the West of Ireland.
When we arrive at my grandfather's house,
the great rush to get inside,
and final confirmation that all is, as it should be,
for another year.
The stuffed otter still alert, chosen eyes pointed,
waits inside the entrance hall,
his permanently fixed landscape of brown
and green, and the wet shine of lacquered stone,
his captured salmon still uneaten . . .
We are home!
Niall O Connor ©