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March 17th 1948 (poem) - Thomas McCarthy - Ireland - Poetry International
 
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March 17th 1948
St. Patrick’s Day and the bleak shamrock and the bleak German spring.
/ New Guardsmen step and turn to perfection under a barking RSM. /
I feel as desolate as a small country going down the drain. Ireland in the
grip of some terrible lack of ease, squeezing her sons to Dagenham and
Cricklewood. / I carry my tray of shamrock like a Pastoral Letter out of
Waterford and Lismore: food for thought, inedible. / As inedible as the
fish stew of San Remo that seems to taste still in my mouth. A mistake
to go south without her. / We broke away too soon. She broke away.
America calling, NY to Southampton. / What we had was as sudden as
the flowers of Ventimiglia, worn down by the cruel I.igurian heat, left
naked by the mistral. I think of her body then like the narrow cage of a
boy, a blush grape, slender, a waterfall of hair in passion: every move of
this Wellesley woman a kind of haunting; nights of the fragrant south in
bed with us then. / Across Europe of so many single men, the erotic
posters. So many trembling with sex for food. But her perfection
nowhere to be seen: I wait for her on the dry sandbank of loneliness, on
fire with memory, thoughts like dreams among the flower markets. / I
image her nylons on the floor, somewhere in America. Not a word. /
Never to reveal oneself, not soon enough. An early March without her
by the sea. Foolishness. As if to heal myself I fall into conversation with
a waitress, her husband dead in the war. But in San Remo, you are the
one I search for: no stranger drinking her hopeless Asti. / Insistent,
pushing forward, this empty St. Patrick’s Day.