A Stranger in my Own Land

by Christopher Murray

On the Enterprise from the north
through cuttings and border towns
past disused sentry posts
and over the invisible indivisible line
to where the land broadens.

As passengers jostle and gather belongings, children,
a mile or so before Clarke Station,
I notice Dundalk Bay sparkle in midday sun away to my left.
I pick up Murakami and read,
“Some things are forgotten, some things disappear, some things die.”
Not on this island, “North of the Border, west of the Sun.”

We cross the River Boyne,
flowing through Ireland’s heart
where foreigners and Enniskilleners
clattered into other’s arms,
turning the river red.

I calculate the rising of the Free State
took two hundred and thirty two more years,
blessed by pope, bishops and state alike,
the Republic after another fifteen,
then civil war came, again,
then peace in nineteen ninety-eight.

As we leave the bridge at Malahide
the marina reminds me of sailing here in nineteen sixty-one,
aged twelve, inhaling Sweet Afton in the Bar,
and feeling like a stranger.
Later we headed home along “the rocky road”,
from the green of the south to the “Black North”.

Now, as Howth and Ireland’s Eye came into view,
I feel our carriage clunk, slowing into James Connolly
where we form an orderly queue
spilling onto Viscount Amien Street.
I meet my friend, a Dubliner, at An Túr Solais and the G.P.O.,
here, in my own land.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. Written at a Poetry as Commemoration workshop in the Verbal Arts Centre Derry led by writer Maria McManus in November 2022.