Traveller

Pat Galvin

The signs we know you by;
a multicoloured wall or bush the scrapyard sculpture round the back of vans,
a smouldering fire:
all are present on this hot day as you go about your business as if the disused site
was your carpeted floor,
the shining sun your bulb
as though life was one long mobile holiday home
for at least today.
Surrounded by glinting pots and pans, clothes wrung into
fat ropes your bare-armed thrusts throw not only the doors open but the walls and ceilings also;
now I can see why it might be worth those bitter winter nights as a barefoot toddler makes
the hot dust her private beach, her father dines on the caravan steps and a hundred identical silent lives pass by the wroughtiron railings of this council site.
And although a desert sun
is relentless on my creased suit I could delay here
among women up to their elbows in suds, rows of washed utensils gleaming in the mid-day sun, basins, buckets and tin-cans
the turned-out caravans.
But I am a traveller from a different world where fixed plumbing and electric light
give me by bearings so that I cannot see your bright churns are cool wells holding
a still sky and won't del~y . among all this unfolded mtlmacy
where talk is of great
horse-fairs and fierce
prices for tin.

Page 51, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 22