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cover art Poems from the Other Land
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B a l l y m e n a   a t   t h e   O v a l

Do you know how anticipated those outings
on Saturday afternoons were;
my one day to have you all to myself?
The evenings of stealing in to watch
you lathe the wood to perfection
sawdust flying, dusting your brylcreamed hair
were not really an audience, your mind
somewhere else, among the ancient grain
knots worried smooth, ready for their varnish.
Or the nights debating what life meant
heated words, each of us vying for the answer.
No. The drive up to the Big Smoke
a flask of milky tea, sandwiches wrapped in cling film
nestled in a bag between my feet
were the only time I saw the real you.
And later, feet cold, fingers numb from the
wind blowing off the Lagan, shouting ourselves hoarse
as men kicked a ball, shins, laying into each other
while bottles flew, you anxious for our safety
were the best moments, us against the world.
Now, when I watch football
I’m transported more often than not
to those afternoons of mayhem
in the Oval, and must smile;
it didn’t matter that I was a girl. I was
your daughter, valued for being me.


First appeared in PoetryRepairShop, October 2003

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