To hear Eavan Boland read “The Colonists,” click here.
I am ready to go home
through an autumn evening.
without any warning, I can see them.
They form slowly out of the twilight.
Their faces. Arms. Greatcoats. And tears.
They are holding maps.
But the pages are made of failing daylight.
Their tears, made of dusk, fall across the names.
Although they know by heart
every inch and twist of the river
which runs through this town, and their houses–
every aspect of the light their windows found–
they cannot find where they come from:
The river is still there.
But not their town.
The light is there. But not their moment in it.
Nor their memories. Nor the signs of life they made.
Then they faded.
And the truth is I never saw them.
If I had I would have driven home
through an ordinary evening, knowing
that not one street name or sign or neighbourhood
could be trusted
to the safe-keeping
of the making and unmaking of a people.
And have entered a house I might never
find again, and have written down–
as I do now
their human pain. Their ghostly weeping.