Ireland, Circa 2000
Jessica McMichael
I am Irish twice removed,
Try to draw blood from hard-packed soil
In Guinness breaths, cut life
Out of the roots.
Kilkenny, Westmeath~Gaelic slips of the tongue~
Are like flat ticks on a hound's skin.
I stumble across the evergreen land~
Gravity forces me upright,
The polar opposition to heritage.
I pass the tower boys framed by barbed wire,
Watch their eyes focus, then fade.
The first hanging tree~
A poplar in Dunlavy~
Makes an exotic postcard to send home.
I follow a traveler's moon to the crags of Inishman,
Feel like a gypsy~fingertips grip the edge~
600 feet of sea and foam slap the shore.

I finish the last droplets of ale,
Turn the glass bottom-side up and scribble on a napkin:
Ireland, circa 2000.

Jessica McMichael has published poems and short stories in Slipstream, Miller's Pond, Devil's Blossom, and elsewhere. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and lives in Houston, Texas.