“Today My Father Should Be at The Score” by Joanne McCarthy

Joanne McCarthy


marking out the route, 
pulling out road signs from the back of the car— 
road bowling in progress
a high viz jacket thrown about him 
to keep the Ból Chumann crowd quiet. 
He should be meeting the lads, his mates arriving 
over the brow after milking the cows, walking the dogs, 
doing a stint at the back wall of the church for Mass. 
He should be handing over cash, or totting the running tab, 
giving 20 to Tim, Joe, or Jimmy 
and placing their communal bet, backing their player. 
He should be tearing fresh grass from the ditch 
and shouting back at the crowd to stay in out of the way. 
He should be watching someone he’s known all his life 
take an exuberant run, 
a mighty lift into the air, 
arm rotating, 
swinging the solid iron ball in their fist, 
circulating this living heat. 
He should be watching this ball, this bowl 
bullet through the air. 
He should be eyeing the drop, 
the land on the tar road 
and be arriving at the drop spot to mark it 
with a fistful of freshly ripped grass 
and he should be calling, calling on 
for the next player to come up 
to the starting spot 
and not be holding the whole bloody show up. 
He should be watching the sparring pair 
throw their bowls in sequential turns 
eyeing their run, loft, flight of the ball 
and the land, 
the flint chink spark of metal on tar road. 
He should be critiquing throws 
with a gut full of intuition, 
decades of living the run, launch, fly, 
ball landing, 
the soft roll to the edge of the ditch 
or deep crash within the briars of the ditch. 
He should be at the finish line shouting for the winner. 
He should be shaking hands, 
banging backs, 
pocketing his share of the winnings. 
He should be on the high stool in Cookies, 
a creamy head settling on his pint of Guinness 
and the retelling of it all 
just beginning.

from Rattle #79, Spring 2023
Tribute to Irish Poets


Joanne McCarthy: “I write bi-lingually, in Irish and English. My English is a Hiberno-English that I inherited from my family in West Cork. I came to poetry through the Irish language first and I continue to read and write in Irish. My engagement in Irish language poetry continues to echo through my work in English.” (web)

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