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.

Using Format