An Unexpected Eruption
You must write about home, the tutor said.
But I am homeless, I thought.
Still, I tried. I scrawled about boarding school
Which was kind of home, if you say that home
Is just where you happen to be sent to grow up.
That was too dark. Too politicised.
So I tried again, described me in Cambodia
Where I had been at home in the shul and the sea.
That is much too exotic. Write about home.
The third time I wrote about Ireland
The place rose up and buried me like ash
I could think of nothing else for days
A soft urgent mountain leaking smoke and dust
Back to my childhood and beyond
To the place where my people are buried
Four hundred years, in the same spot
You could draw a map of the graves there
And link me to them all. I wrote for weeks.
She explained about stereotype, Ireland was elsewhere
he knew about Ireland because she had come
Over to Dublin once, for a conference.
I should read Irish books. Learn the real place.
I am not at home in this class.