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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 special edition, celebrating Galway 2020

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