Why My Grandmother Could Never Escape Ireland

She slept above the creamery, her dreams

rising into the neck of Dublin’s bottle

until she herself slowly separated

out of the thin milk of a dead mother.

She told me her father did not drink

though the chill of iron tankards ruled his hand

as he doled out love, cheating his daughter

by a farthing’s weight for every quart,

ladling on the beatings like a man

dumping the spoils into a stone gutter.

Once he shattered her eardrum, then left

for Liverpool. She, unaccountably, followed,

the harsh buzz of his constant fault-finding

planted permanently inside her skull,

badgering her across a greased Atlantic.


–Richard Broderick (for Evelyn Case Hassard)