The Emigrant

Two places only

there were:

here and America.

The four corners of the farm,

and gone-beyond-the-sea.


With a twopenny nail

he etched into the iron

shank of his spade

the word ‘Destiny’,

drove it with his boot smartly into the turf

and left it standing.


Abroad commenced

at the town line.

The New World blinded him

on the Navan road

and again the first time he tried to speak English

and again the first time he saw an orange.


Anaesthetized by reels and barrels of porter

and eight renditions of ‘The Parting Glass’,

he fell asleep to the groan of oars

and awoke to a diesel thrust

and sleet over mountainous seas.


–Richard Tillinghast