The North Sea
Once, in Belfast, I found an ancestor
living alone in a blue-shuttered house.
I fed the old man tales of my father
while downing ale and spitting fish bones in a pub.
Through a wee window I spied two spruce boys
riding a mammoth hog on cobblestones.
The pure Irishman said he saw nothing.
Those sassy boys were laughing up a roar.
Being played by my sunset great uncle
was okay by me. Three Guinness rounds gone,
with Black Mountain rising against our backs.
Then Uncle shared terrible truth. Scotland.
He was true born in the shrieking highlands.
Lies, murder, your clan blood rises from a plaid fire.
Joy McDowell is a native Oregonian living on a mountain overlooking three valleys. Her poem “The Rest I Imagine” won an editor’s choice in the anthology New Poets of the American West.