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With Orwell, footing turf

  • I pray for rain to drive us from the bog
    and for the sun to come out again
    in time for games of glory
    on a neighbour’s sloping field.

    But the sun beats down on the black mud plain,
    down on that rugged carpet, whose world renown
    means nothing to me.

    Instead, unknown to others there, I play
    a game inside my head, where once more I ramble
    on the road to Wigan Pier.

    The bank we’re on is a Pennine plateau,
    our footings, the homes of industrial folk
    who knew nothing of us.

    At other times, when we straighten up,
    we are New Romantics, hair swept sideways,
    our wellingtons those elegant boots they wear,
    with denim tucked inside,
    working till we’re musclebound.

    I go at it again, the back breaking work
    that brings me back to a tunnelled, chimneyed land
    where folk like us
    dig the dirty fossil down below.

Originally published in the Skylight 47, celebrating Galway 2020

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