Different Days

Aidan Matear

My dad, so he tells me,
went to school with Howard Cox.
A person not a condition, I’m assured.
Say it aloud in your best Ulster accent…
What were his parents thinking?
– staunch Presbyterians so not for a laugh!

He’s told me of a different world, a different time:
Friday treats, brown lemonade and ice-cream floats.
Bags of dulse, sun-dried on the harbour wall, an acquired taste.
Church on Sundays,
Your most uncomfortable clothes,
a penance to maintain the mood
of regimented worship powered by polo mints
and weekly reminders of the badness of the other side.

Keep to your own, don’t talk to them ones.
Sure, how would you know?
– Ah, that’s easy; their eyes are too close together.
Which side’s that then? Both apparently.
Don’t think he listened though…

Burned out buses,
barricades and roadblocks,
clodding bricks and petrol bombs.
Mostly on the news, not too close thankfully.
But you couldn’t forget the night they blew up the chapel.
Safer with carry outs on the beach,
staggering home, singing and sobering up in the fresh sea air.

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