Words for Cork Exiles
23rd Dec 2020
Darkness falls across the Rebel county, on a year we won’t forget,
December’s days are nearly done now, blustery, cold and wet,
On Grand Parade the neon flashes, Christmas sounds still fill the air,
An old lady stands alone, starring up, whispering a brittle little prayer.
She’s imagining her grandkids faces going ‘round on that Ferris Wheel,
And to hug and see their smiles again, only Jesus knows how good she’d feel.
January is hard enough too. There’s always a rake of the same goodbyes.
Covering up lumpy throats, telling each other the same old lies.
“Sure we’ll see you soon, you never know, maybe we’ll make it back for the graduation!”,
The same forced upbeat half-fibs trotted out across the nation.
Self-distracting with logistics, flight times and connections,
Departure lounge coke machines, help bottle up postponed affections.
Still, we’d swap all the awkward hugs, to see each other face to face,
Wishing you lived more in the moment, instead of always sprinting in a race.
You worry last Christmas might have been the last time you see your old man alive,
He told you not to be worried about him, and sure he’s still well able to drive.
He knows a load of fellas who were all told they were stage four too,
And most of them are still around, and in fairness, what are you going to do?
You have to get on with your own life, right? Manhattan and Melbourne is where it’s at,
Hit that self-assuring button again, ‘and sure, the weather in Cork is cat!’
And your sister will keep you up to date, she looks after your aging mam and dad,
But you wonder when she says all is fine, that behind her Skype face, things are bad.
You can’t dig too deep, she has family too, and you know she’s doing her best,
When she’s got her kids out to school, she has to go and help your folks get dressed.
Is she exposing them to the virus, by popping ‘round to help them every day?
You’ve to bite your tongue: don’t give lectures from an ivory tower in San José.
Sometimes it feels like your only connection to home, is the banter on WhatsApp,
But there’s only so much craic to be had so far away with small screen scroll and tap,
You suggest another online meet up, hoping to lift the gloom,
Everyone’s read your message, but nobody’s seems to want to do another zoom.
Getting up early to watch the Munster football clash when Kerry came to town,
Mark Keane’s stunning goal to win has you jumping up and down.
You’re explaining to your better half, about the place where you were born and bred,
They smile and nod politely, but it’s all going straight over their bewildered head:
Meeting half of Cork on Pana, hot ports and twelve cosy little pubs,
Rebel banter up to ninety, ‘I tell ya boy next year we’ll bate those feckin’ Dubs!’
It means little out in Chicago, Dallas, Paris or down in Perth,
Or wherever out there in Not Cork, you find yourself fitting in on planet earth.
But dear Rebel, when you close your eyes, reach out and feel our touch,
The PROC is holding to your hand tonight, we miss you all so very much.
And you never know, when you visit next, maybe you and the kids could be convinced to stay,
Imagine your mam’s eyes light up, with no decades of the rosary left to pray.
And instead of the highly scheduled catch-ups, and rushed nights out full of booze,
Go to see a club match with old friends and in between schmozzles exchange little bits of news.
Go for a long walk with your old man, spend a few hours talking about your roots,
Head down to Gouganbarra with flasks of tae and an old pair of boots.
No matter how far away you are, let’s keep that Cork connection strong,
Never forget you’re still one of us, and to the Leeside clann, you still belong.
As the four faced liar tolls its bells, to ring in a brand new year.
Wherever you are when midnight strikes, know that your tribe still holds you dear.
From Vancouver Island down to Auckland, from Cape Town up to Rome,
Whenever you decide to come back, remember, Cork will always be your home.