The Commons

We changed our route
after the rose stealing incident
on Killiney Avenue
left us both out of breath,
red petals spilling.
I was used to keeping lookout
because we robbed orchards
in the same back gardens
but never the front,
Da you were braver.

Most nights we walked the rural turn
on a road the river fell below
before a row of tall houses,
wild gardens each side.
You often picked flowers here
it wasn’t stealing,
it was, you said, our land too.
No need to keep watch.

Poppies, daisies and buttercups,
no scent but strength in chains
and under-chin reflections,
petals to press into books.
I didn’t get the showy roses of Killiney.
I got doc leaves and nettles
and the sting of walking
the Commons Road without you after dark,
being chased by those who tried to claim me.
I got the sour stems of sorrel—we called Charlie—
to suck instead of sweets.

It made me harder than granny’s lavender borders
and more endemic than the hogweed that grew on Kilbogget,
softened only by the smell of stolen roses
and the memory of your laughter in the lane.

Sinéad McClure