We lived in pubs, draft 2.

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,

or perhaps between the students and the locals,

as if trying to straddle an invisible line.

My head tilted back against the wall, glass

and friends and chatter forgotten in the jaunty

reel of Ronan’s violin. Encouraged

by flirtatious, tipsy girls who zigzagged

back and forth between the bar and the restroom,

I chatted with a young accordion player

whose name was Gaelic and hard to pronounce.


We closed the pub down, I

and a few other girls who befriended

the bartenders and other musicians,

all of whom protested as we tried to help

clean up, collecting filmy, half-empty glasses

from every surface. I derived some small pleasure

from staying, four young women clustered

in a back corner of a dark pub

as the rest of the patrons emptied

into the frosty night.


As the night swelled into morning, I grew

inured to the rusty smell of Guinness

seeping through the entire pub,

through the walls, through our clothing,

into the songs sung by our new friends

swaying to the tune of the dark, frothy beer.


I fell in love with Irishmen who spoke of music

and words and the meeting of both, quoting poetry

and Joyce, quoting well and often.

As fingers of light brightened the floor

under shuttered windows, I fell in love

with Yeats’ stolen child.


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