How It Was Once In Our Country

The New Republic

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POETRY MARCH 6, 2006

How It Was Once In Our Country

In those years I owned a blue plate,
blue from the very edges to the centre
ocean-blue, the sort of under-wave blue
a mermaid could easily dive down into and enter.

When I looked at the plate I saw the mouth
of a harbour, an afternoon without a breath
of air, the evening clear all the way to Howth
and back, the sky a paler blue further to the south.

Consider the kind of body that enters blueness,
made out of dead-end myth and mischievous
whispers of an old, borderless
existence where the body's meaning was both more and less.

Sea-trawler, land-siren: succubus to all the dreams
land has of ocean, of its old home.
She must have witnessed deaths. Of course she did.
Some say she stayed down there to escape the screams.

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This poem originally ran in the March 6, 2006, issue of the magazine.

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