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Friday, July 16, 2010


(St. Brendan of Ireland, 484?-557?, and his monks in a
Bantry boat; according to legend, they traveled west
from the edge of the known world in quest of the Isle
of the Blessed)

In times past, before easy travel and modern communications, taking leave of one’s homeland was often an occasion of great sorrow. In Ireland, beginning with the era of mass migration caused by the deadly Potato Famine that started in 1845, folks would hold an “American wake” for the people sailing for America. There would be food and drink and song, but it was mainly an evening of tears. Everyone knew they would never see their loved ones again. It was as if they were already dead. “’Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide,” mourns the grieving singer in Danny Boy.

Now, travel is fast and comfortable and messages are sent with a click, but migration can still provoke anxiety.


We've packed our bags, we're set to fly
no one knows where, the maps won't do.
We're crossing the ocean's nihilistic blue
with an unborn infant's opal eye.

It has the clarity of earth and sky
seen from a spacecraft, once removed,
as through an amniotic lens, that groove-
lessness of space, the last star by.

We have set out to live and die
into the interstices of a new
nowhere to be or be returning to

(a little like an infant's airborne cry).
We've set our sights on nothing left to lose
and made of loss itself a lullaby.

~ Todd Hearon, American poet and playwright

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