Among family heirlooms

I find a postcard written on a voyage

to America: the barely legible last goodbye

of a steamship emigrant.

I imagine him, my ancestor

on the journey west: homesick, heartstruck.

Like a fledgling thrown from the nest

to take a chance

under Liberty’s raised right hand.

I imagine him, sad to leave his bogbanks,

grassland, the sound of the latch,

but ready to seek with rolled-up sleeves

the better life in Queens, the Bronx,

in streets with their entourage,

streets that spawned hard tasks.

“Heirloom” is one of the prescribed poems in the junior category for the Poetry Aloud competition organised by Poetry Ireland and the National Library.

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