City of Wine and Flowers

Along the river, flowers grow
in crevices in solid stone.
They root on bridge abutments
and retaining walls,
wherever there is light.

The river rushes from Loch Corrib
through to Galway Bay,
dodging the city’s grasp.
Above it, lovely, lonely, the cathedral crouches,
hard as Burren rock.
Inside glass blossoms into coloured light
as fresh and soft as gentians.

At noon the homeless woman’s drunk.
The tourists veer aside, avoid, ignore
her hopeless shrieks of rage.
Later, replete with craic and music,
a little drunk themselves,
they’ll open purses for a dosser
who will smile, and thank, and bless.
Then off they’ll daunder to another bar
where yet another player’s tuning up.
Most people talk too much to listen.

So many fiddlers die in Galway City that
the air is full of longing, sweet and sad.
Fresh fiddlers come to take their places,
squeeze box players,
pipers, weavers of dreams
singers of lost songs.

All day the sky is pierced by seabirds’ cries.
At sunset, as the pubs fill up,
the riverside grows quiet.
The dossers settle where they can.
The sky is streaked with wonder and release.

Isabel Miles