Friday, August 3, 2007

A family reunion

There he lay, pink and fragile,
In the parish of Baltiboys,
Shallow breath barely heard
At the foot of the yellowed microfiche.
“Milesius Behan to Martin Behan and Mary nee Cullen
Twentieth March 1830.
Sponsors Luke Hughes and Bridget Behan.”
I bowed formally to Luke,
As he prepared to launch into another song,
And smiled warmly at Bridget,
Remarking on the family likeness,
As she fussed nervously over the sleeping infant.
Bleary-eyed through months of searching,
I gazed fondly on the calm brow
Of my great-great-grandfather, Miley,
Warm in his rough sacking,
His parting from the Black Hill,
His journey to Dublin,
His marriage to Catherine Byrne,
His life as a nondescript labourer
All ahead of him,
Undreamt of in that new-sprung head.
Then I turned to Martin and Mary,
Proud parents, tired
Through scratching a living on a plot
Owned by the man from the Big House,
And childbirth.
I embraced them in turn,
Like a prodigal son.

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