Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Favorite Place" by Mary Soon Lee

Favorite Place
Mary Soon Lee

Saint Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland
After fifteen years away,
I took my children to Dublin
and we fed the ducks
(who were actually gulls)
at St. Stephen's Green.

We didn't visit the cemetery,
but broke bread with your sisters,
their voices instantly familiar
as I wish your voice could be,
even for a few hours
every fifteen years.

Two days in Ireland, jet-lagged,
so little of what I wanted,
but three weeks later
my daughter, your granddaughter,
brought home from school
a worksheet where she'd penciled
her favorites:
color - blue violet,
number - 9,
place - Ireland.

Why do the small things
undo me?

Poet's Notes:  My mother was Irish and grew up in Dublin. She would have been an entirely wonderful grandmother but she died when my son was one year old and before my daughter had been born. This poem is about a brief trip to Dublin that I made with my children, during which they met my aunts and my cousins, which was a bittersweet experience. My aunts and my cousins were so kind and warmly welcoming, but I heard my mother in her sisters' voices and I wanted her to be there, to be with her grandchildren, even for an afternoon.

Editor’s Note:  I am touched by and a bit jealous of this one, being half Irish (my mother's people hail from Sligo) and always having wanted to visit Ireland and knowing I likely never will.  Mary captures several universal qualities of life here:  longing to connect with one's roots, regret that that dead cannot share in the joys of the living, the rushed aspects of travel and of never being able to accomplish all that is desired on a trip, and most of all how the “little things” in life are so important. 

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