beer-battered fish wrapped in newsprint

My senior year of high school I went to Northern Ireland with my Dad and my Grammy; the trip changed my life. My “aunts” Pat and Mags, writers and lovely Irish ladies, welcomed us and made me feel at home. Pat has since passed, but her memory lives on every time I eat fried fish, write poems, or see the Union Jack flying. This poem is about family.

beer-battered fish wrapped in newsprint

gliding onion skin feet down
creaky walnut stairs in the house on abeel avenue
with the tacky blue icing wallpaper
sitting in the dining room
at the table with my pocahontas tracing table
next to my dad eating
pillsbury toaster strudels with plastic icing
he talked to me
as he packed his steel lunchbox

i stuck my hand in the toaster once—
and is that where fear
and sensitivity to the sun come from,
or is it my irish heritage?

it was there,
in the north where the stones are smooth
the union jack flying
crossing the bridge with him
knowing that he didn’t know which way was the right
direction was liberating
eating beer-battered fish
across from his wire-knuckled
train-track flattened copper hands
i felt more at home
than i ever had in my own country
because as auntie pat reminded me
after too many gin and tonics:
ireland is not mine
it is my family’s

My own photo. Mags, my Grammy, Pat, my Dad, and myself out to eat in Portadown, N. Ireland


§ One Response to beer-battered fish wrapped in newsprint

  • Aunt Judy says:

    Jillian – Thank you so much for letting me know how to access your work. It is such a pleasure to read; your “gift with words” comes from both Pat & Mags, I believe. Their gentleman mentor, Adrian, has had his work published and if you stop in, when you are next in Greenwich, I would be delighted to let you borrow my copy. Also, the Bannside Scribblers have published several books; if you haven’t already seen your Grammy’s, please feel free to borrow mine. The Irish blood running through you is testimony to the great talent that Irish writers have. Love, Aunt Judy

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