This week our poetry was given a new limitation, one I’m not so fond of. We all wrote words on the board and Tita, my professor, circled seven that were interesting. We’re supposed to write a poem that uses as many as possible. I’ve been writing, and I used several in this, but something doesn’t seem quite right. Like…I’ve got a bigger idea here and I’m trying to paint a poem that captures the essence of my experience in Tig Coili’s, but I’m not quite sure that’s good enough. The words we had to use were: inure, zipper, dogged, zigzag, mystique, flippant, matrices, and derive. Here’s the poem I got out of it.
We lived in pubs.
We lived for late nights spent in pubs,
and I for one pub in particular, its red storefront
inviting, the Gaelic lettering white and illegible.
We were American students trying
to pass as locals in Irish bars,
where Guinness flowed freely and music
was traditional, enamored with the mystique
of bodhráns and bagpipes
instead of thudding bass and auto-tuned voices.
The boys spent flippant amounts of money
on beer and whiskey. They dogged the girls
who glued elbows to the bar,
batting eyelashes at Irishmen
for want of the sound of their measured voices and the clink of ice
in glasses of anything that was not frothy beer.
I nestled in the crook between
the musician’s corner and the bar,
head tilted back against the wall, glass
of Baileys forgotten in my enjoyment
of the bartender/musician’s violin. Encouraged
by flirtatious, tipsy girls who zigzagged
back and forth between the bar and the restroom,
I became acquainted with a young accordion player
whose name was Gaelic and hard to pronounce.
As the night wore on, I grew
inured to the rusty smell of Guinness
seeping through the entire pub,
through the walls, through our clothing.
We talked between music sets
Of everything Irish: of Yeats, Heaney,
traditional music, the profligate drinking,
the terrible education system, and my preference
for Baileys or Jameson but never Guinness.
We closed the pub down, I
and a few other girls who had befriended
bartenders and the other musicians,
all of whom protested as we tried to help
them clean up, collecting filmy, half-empty glasses from every corner.
I derived some small pleasure
from staying, four young women clustered
in a back corner of a dark bar
as the rest of the patrons emptied
into the frosty night.