I’d never been further than Ballina, and only in the back of a cart.
The train shuffled field after tree after field, as Dada did with cards
and me as a spindle at the heart of it, the last still thing in the world.
It was as well, maybe, departure was giddy so I thought the whirl
meant more than the leaving. For a while. Queenstown was a hell
of shouting and shoving and crying in the lurk of those huge hulls.
Beggars, drunks; porters who’d offer to carry bags, then disappear.
A madwoman pulling at me, asking was I not Bríd from Inis Oírr.
That packed cabin was the most at home I’d felt since Glenavoo:
warm bodies close around me, women snoring as Mama used to,
a baby crying and someone being sick and someone whispering.
But only one privy for every hundred bunks on the City of Berlin
and no deck below in third class: for six nights, the same foul air.
Getting on, I knew nothing of Berlin. Getting off, I didn’t care.