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24th of November, 2002 POST·MERIDIEM 03:21

Backside to the Wind by Paul Durcan

A fourteen-year-old boy is out rambling alone
By the scimitar shores of Killala Bay
And he is dreaming of a French Ireland
Backside to the wind.

What kind of village would I now be living in?
French vocabularies intertwined with Gaelic
And Irish women with French fathers
Backside to the wind.

The Ballina road would become the Rue de Humbert
And wine would be the staple drink of the people;
A staple diet of potatoes and wine
Backsides to the wind.

Monsieur O’Duffy might be the harbour-master
And Madame Duffy the mother of thirteen
Tiny philosophers to overthrow Maynooth
Backsides to the wind.

And Father Molloy might be a worker-priest
Up to his knees in manure at the cattle-mart;
And dancing and loving on the streets at evening
Backsides to the wind.

Jean Arthur Rimbaud might have grown up here
In a hillside terrace under the round tower;
Would he, like me, have dreamed of an Arabian Dublin
Backside to the wind?

And Garda Ned MacHale might now be a gendarme
Having hysterics at the crossroads;
Excommunicating male motorists, ogling females
Backsides to the wind.

I walk on, facing the village ahead of me,
A small concrete oasis in the wild countryside;
Not the embodiment of the dream of a boy
Backside to the wind.

Seagulls and crows, priests and nuns,
Perch on the rooftops and steeples,
And their Anglo-American mores are killing me
Backside to the wind.

Not to mention the Japanese invasion:
Blunt people as serious as ourselves
And as humourless; money is our God
Backsides to the wind.

The ancient Franciscan Friary of Moyne
Stands nobly, roofless, by;
Past it rolls a vast concrete pipe
Backside to the wind.

Carrying out chemical waste to sea
From the Asahi synthetic-fibre plant;
Where once monks sang, wage-earners slave
Backsides to the wind.

Yet somehow, sweet River Moy,
Run on though I end my song;
You are the vestments of the salmon of learning
Backside to the wind.

But I have no choice but to leave, to leave,
And yet there is nowhere I more yearn to live
Than in my own wild countryside
Backside to the wind.

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