Waterways 1

We’ve waited the better part of a blustery day
in the ugly part of a Welsh town.

The ferry is late.
Very late.
The ferry is not coming.
The ferry is coming late tomorrow.
Perhaps we’d better find a B&B
and come back tomorrow.

The ferry is here,
but we can’t get on.
A storm is coming.

The storm cannot stop us,
we can board, but not quite yet.

Finally, we trudge on.
It is 2 a.m.

The Irish make straight for the bar,
and spill in disarray into the hallway.
“ALL FECKIN’ DAY!” someone shouts.
“And half the FECKIN’ night as well!”
someone else shouts back.

My friends and I find seats together,
on a quiet deck.
The dark windows reflect the low lights
and the orange carpeting.
They are not drinkers.
Nor Irish.
I am both,
but dare not brave the bar.

We settle in,
share out apples
and a tube of cookies,
chocolate on one side.

I try to read the Yeats poems I brought,
but I can’t keep my eyes
from skipping jaggedly across words.

I leave my friends,
sleeping under their coats,
feet resting on their backpacks.

Storm or no storm,
I must witness this passage
to Ireland.

I find the prow.
I lurch past people stretched out
sleeping in the hallway.

I find doors.
I push against the wind.
The wind slashes the rain against my face.
I can hardly open my eyes.
The Irish Sea is a heaving black
on all sides.
I hang on to the railing, head down.
Watching for the port lights
through the storm.

I am the first one back,
of four generations gone.

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