Outside The Hotel Clarence, Dublin

This morning a boy slouched,
pale and jacketless, near
our hotel door. In the slatted rain
he thrust forth a small box, torn
cardboard, aiming it at us
in soaked silence.

We hesitated, shocked
by cropped hair and grey eyes,
at the sore trickling
red-orange and open
down his bruised face,
at a tom cat part raw with mange
pressed against the boy’s
frayed pant legs,

across the littered street
the River Liffey rushing
through Dublin behind a dark wall,
slate roofs of dirty houses slanted
down on the other side, gleaming
toward water rushing under
stone bridges to the cold sea.

Caught under our black umbrella
I gripped my mate’s arm,
hungry for singing crowds
and warm pub fires. Until the tom
skulked over to me, rubbed
curved ribs against my high boots,
eyes two full moons behind silver clouds,
peering up at my green eyes,

until I dropped two silver shillings
like more rain
into the beggar’s box.

Susan Deer Cloud, partly of Irish lineage, recently received an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant for going to Ireland and exploring the ancient connections and similarities between Northeastern Woodlands Indians in America and the Irish people. Her newest book, Hunger Moon, was released in February from Shabda Press. Her poem, “I Want to Tell You About My Hair” was recently published as part of Syracuse Cultural Workers’ notecard collection.