“It's when your head's turned inattentively,
just slightly, in belief that inattention comes
to swallow you whole.” —Alain Bischford
We sleep beneath your grandfather’s talith
Fine lamb’s wool striped black and white
A giant barcode to be scanned by God
The pelt of a fabulous beast.
Little tent, portable temple
It survived Dutch looters and Dublin landlords
To shelter in this Irish night even me
Uncircumcised, and all too often, unwashed.
Your father pinned it to his study wall
A flag without a shield. Eternity’s quilt,
Your grandfather didn’t think he’d need it
When he took the train in Amsterdam.
“And what,” he mocked your father,
“are they going to murder us all?”
by Michael O’Loughlin
from In This Life
publisher: New Island, Dublin, 2011