by Aoife Mannix
The woman in the bright pink scarf says the square
is empty now but back in the fifties this market
was buzzing with barrow boy bargains. Live eels
wriggling with soon to be jelly bravado. Stallions
shivering outside the horse butchers though she
never knew any but the French to eat such meat.
A string of pearl shops where people echoed
your name, your family, the county you came
from back in the old country. Cork, Kerry,
Kilkenny, Killarney, Kildare, Kilburn.
Their music transferred to an alien city,
proud to play more Irish than the Irish themselves.
They were poorer than those up on the high road
but they were never short of a helping hand.
The Paddies and the Blacks united in their reversal
of no dog signs as they mixed Donegal and Trinidad
into coffee children calling out for a chance to show
they are no mere statistics in a drawer, jokers
in a pack that keeps being reshuffled, but voices
of vision that leap across concrete divisions.
Street corner pioneers conquering vertigo
with a single bound. The richness of lyrical
answers sewn into the wings of their trainers.
Hip-hop sky diving acrobats who tumble and spin
across their own urban palaces that have
yet to be built. Angel rebels whose cloud souls
are not for sale, they rewrite the signs so they point
up into the sky. Dance their own invisible maps
through the rain forest of broken stones.