On the Train to Dublin July 1st 2014 To my late mother on her birthday and to Dermot Healy who died last Friday by Terry McDonagh, Irish Poet, Playwright, Writer and Founding contributor of Live Encounters Magazine. www.terry-mcdonagh.com
This poem, first published in the London literary journal, Agenda, was influenced by my time spent as a teacher when I very much disliked ‘colourng in’ books for children. I couldn’t help feeling their creativity was being manipulated and limited by so-called education systems, publishers and ‘educators’ that refuse to allow children to grow, think for themselves and find their own shapes and voices.
On the Train to Dublin July 1st 2014
to my late mother on her birthday and to Dermot Healy who died last Friday
The sun has microfilmed – there’s no need for tears.
My mother and Dermot Healy are dead. They never
met and died seven years apart but dead is dead as this
perfect day rises in me. I’m not in a tall building, but,
at least, I’m travelling first class by default. A mother
teaches her little son to be best in his class. I feel like
shouting: stop colouring in that ugly horse – there are
three beauties out there in the meadow. Should I report
this woman for stifling vim and vigour – for
damage to a boy’s head – for anti-social behaviour.
They are a unit contracted to each other. They boy
knows how to spell house and roof and suburbia.
He’s learning to keep the lid on things – to cover up.
A completed construction might read: the roof is there
to keep you safe – under lock and key – out of
danger – out of harm’s way – I’m your mother.
I’ll pack you nicely and transfer love
into fear of big butterflies.
Stop looking out of the window, my son. Colour in the page that
says daddy’s rich – that says money helps you not to look up.
Forget the stars. There are no storms on a page and
it’s almost always summer. Keep a roof over your head.
Your mother means well.
She is indebted to you.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph meant well
Allah meant well
Dermot Healy meant well – Dermot Healy did good.
He watched birds migrating.
My mother meant well – my mother did good.
She watched me migrating.
Look out of the window, boy. Stop colouring in
for a moment. Look at those horses taking wing.
Imagine the moon ducking among the stars. Imagine
the dead catching up on games they’d forgotten
and, above all, don’t forget
to build a skylight into your roof.
© Terry Mcdonagh