Grange road runs like a crazy ribbon
from an old blackened church exhausted by births and deaths
up to thick new woods on the slopes of the Dublin hills —
and we've known it for this small slice of time,
a year we've spent in a strange house
full of musty books and stale chocolate,
rusting knives and forks,
a thousand stolen sachets of café sugar,
the shivering patience of lace curtains
on windows overlooking the road,
catching the odd glint of red at sunset
over slate rooves and cold chimneys.
We've known it for what it has been,
alive at night with drunken teenagers
kicking over bins, smashing car windows,
hanging around the Londis asking you
to buy them vodka
(they'll bring it to the park —
they'll drink it hastily in the darkness —
they'll break things in an ecstatic rage —
and blindly let the road swim them home.)
It's a river of life and death
and apparently random decisions —
we saw a boy in a red car lose control
around the tricky corner
and destroy 2 cars in a head-on collision —
they both lived — this time —
and the residents gathered to watch, talking
about the other accidents at that corner,
the ones who made it and the ones who died
right there on the road,
in bloodstains bleached by the streetlights.
Over the park wall among the dead leaves
you can hear the cars moaning past.
You can imagine souls travelling home at last.
There's a stream that follows its path
for a while, under and over ground, through gardens,
running to join the Dodder river,
where this road is forgotten,
its memories emptied into cold black water.
Prayers and curses for two miles and fifty years,
and we've known little of it but what sings
in the blood in the small hours —
what beats in the heart in the wind —
an unending procession of hooves and then tyres,
young feet growing older, then young feet again.
What is a road, anyway?
It lays itself down in your mind,
and in your dreams you follow it,
and every other road you've ever known,
to the gates of your sacred city.