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Tag Archives Black and Tans


To have a child, as you know well, is to have

someone always with you – their shadow,

their echo, their breathing – whatever

has happened, whatever may happen.

To have a daughter is to shape the future.


When we lived in a Victorian third floor

attic flat, that had been the nursery

and the children’s bedrooms, and the trees,

planted when the house was built, touched the panes,

and you were only a few weeks old

fifty years ago now,



Catching the last train on any Sunday night,

when I was a student, before The Troubles,

they would be there. I would notice them

in noisy farewells clustered near the bar:

the men, red faced, shouting companionably

with the drink, the women calming kids –

the cardboard suitcases, the carrier bags.


Changing at Crewe, there would be more of them

to join us for the early Irish Mail –

refreshment bars and ill-lit platforms full

of bothered,