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The Joker Family

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You took such care of your hair.

Now it comes out in clumps. "Maybe

my new grandson could spare

a share,"

you joked, Barber Death breathing down your neck.

Always joking we are, keeping something or other in check,

the Joker Family.

Remember how we'd beg you to open the window

of our gray, white-topped Ford Anglia? But no,

a mere hairline window crack of inrushing air

would toss your hair.

How we sweltered on those eternal drives to Everywhere:

Fountainstown, Ringabella, Redbarn, Castlegregory,

Glenbeigh.

"Now look at the scenery while the weather's fine," you'd say.

"We'll stop soon and each have a 99," fixing your hair

in the rear-

view mirror in that special way.

Ma, any chance of a bit of air?

Lately, on a drive round the Ring, near Kenmare,

I risked wisecracking, how your wig

is almost as good as your own erstwhile hair,

itself a look-alike periwig,

and that, at last, we can open the car window

without your hair a holy show.

How we all laughed --you also.

How the winds blow.

-- Greg Delanty

Excerpted from Ship of Birth, published in November 2003 by

Ireland's Carcanet Press. Reprinted with permission from Greg Delanty.

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