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The lion stretched like a sandstone lion on a sandstone slab

of a bridge with one fixture, a gaslight,

looks up from his nicotine-worried forepaw

with the very same air my father, Patrick,

had when the results came back from the lab, that air of anguish-awe

that comes with the realization of just how slight

the chances are of anything doing the trick

as the sun goes down over Ballyknick and Ballymacnab

and a black-winged angel takes flight.

The black-winged angel leaning over the sandstone parapet

of the bridge wears a business suit, dark gray. His hair is slick with pomade.

He turns away as my mother, Brigid,

turned away from not only her sandstone pet

but any concession being made.

The black-winged angel sets her face to the unbending last ray

of evening and meets rigid with rigid

as the sun goes down over Lisnagat and Listamlet

and Clonmore and Clintyclay.

Feckless as he was feckless, as likely as her to be in a foofaraw,

I have it in me to absolutely rant and rail while, for fear of the backlash,

absolutely renounce

the idea of holding anything that might be construed as an opinion.

The lion still looks back to his raw

knuckle and sighs for the possibility that an ounce

of Walnut Plug might shape up from the ash

The angel still threatens to abandon us with a single flick of her pinion

as the sun goes down over Lislasly and Lissaraw

and Derrytrasna and Derrymacash.

Homesickness

Paul Muldoon

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