(for Brendan Kennelly)
The little park is quiet and empty.
No sign now that once in the past
it was the cholera cemetery.
Jonathan and Stella are still together
under the Liberty Bell.
The bell ropes swing and the bells begin
their carnival of sound, their rollicking.
Under a sky of ashen cloud,
in the greyness of February
I discover again my Viking ground:
Brick dust, bone dust buried deep
beneath stone walls and cracked concrete
of a back lane daubed with tales out of school.
This was where they came,
the strange and stranger hordes
of Norsemen, Redcoats and Cromwell’s recruits
who planted cabbage seed
and kindled fires on which they cooked
hogshead and Liffey eels.