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Listening to Bach

Pearse Hutchinson
The Gallery Press


 But For Her

 On very cold nights when I was a child in bed
he took my feet between his hands to warm them,
believing warm feet kept all the body warm,
and it worked and I slept through the cold.

 Out for walks, when I got tired,
he carried me on his back.
What age was I when, walking along the canal,
approaching Latouche Bridge,
I stopped, looked up at him and said:

 'Carry, Daddy, carry!'
and he leant down to take me up
but she put a stop to it
looking down at me, decreeing:
'You're too big now to be carried.'

 What age was I before that, when,
standing on a traffic island
in the middle of O'Connell Bridge,
holding her hand, waiting to cross,
I looked up at her and said:
'Mammy, I only want you.'

 That began to stop when, at fifteen,
I discovered sex,
and went on stopping when, at seventeen,
I discovered booze.

 Years later she told me, bitterly:
'I put my hands under your feet.'

 But for her, often enough,
we might have gone hungry,
me an' him.