The Lost Land

By Eavan Boland

I have two daughters.
 
They are all I ever wanted from the earth.
 
Or almost all.
 
I also wanted one piece of ground:
 
One city trapped by hills. One urban river.
An island in its element.
 
So I could say mine. My own.
And mean it.
 
Now they are grown up and far away
 
and memory itself
has become an emigrant,
wandering in a place
where love dissembles itself as landscape:
 
Where the hills
are the colours of a child’s eyes,
where my children are distances, horizons:
 
At night,
on the edge of sleep,
 
I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.
Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.
 
Is this, I say
how they must have seen it,
backing out on the mailboat at twilight,
 
shadows falling
on everything they had to leave?
And would love forever?
And then
 
I imagine myself
at the landward rail of that boat
searching for the last sight of a hand.
 
I see myself
on the underworld side of that water,
the darkness coming in fast, saying
all the names I know for a lost land
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