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Tony Curtis, from folk


Such a warm little word,
full of greens and browns,
like something woven,
a thread into the past;
something to hold onto
in the dark. If I say
the word quietly to myself
I think of a photograph
I found in my father's
bible after he died:

The end of prayer.
Roscrea, 1948. Sunday
morning after early mass,
my folks stand ready for the road.
The motorbike between them
like a man in a yard
holding open a sack;
throw in the breeze, the ditches,
the lanes that weave
through the widening fields.

It is the end of November.
The feast of St James of the Marches.
Winter is in the air.
They are dressed for weather.
So close,
my mother wears
my father's heavy raincoat.
He wears goggles and gloves
as if with the right words —
"So long, God Bless!" —

the motorbike will lift
off into the clouds
like a magic carpet.
"Hold on!" I hear him
say to my mother,
as the road, the fields,
the houses fade away.
And she did, tightly,
with both arms,
for the rest of their lives.