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Crowds on the Crookedshore

November 24, 2008

Was it really only this morning that I found myself in the midst of the roaring mob? The press of bodies on all sides, their songs recalling another age and the swish of flags making the air move? Look up, there on the bell tower of Church House, people swarming all over the scaffolding, fighting for a clearer view of the enemy. Was it just those few hours ago that I felt the tang of adrenalin in my mouth when, as one, people fled when the volume rose and the armoured police charged, making the street a whole tangle of human limbs? And the thought crowded in, ‘don’t fall’.

And now tonight I’m back on the familiar crookedshore. There’s no moon and it’s very dark. And quiet. The tide has recently withdrawn leaving the beach slick and wet. Look up, and there is the vast, uncountable sweep of the Milky Way, her stars dashing their way soundlessly across the heavens. My arms are wide open, my head upturned and still I can’t contain its reaches. And in the windless air, there is only silence in the dark.

When I look down to pick my way carefully home, I see Venus reflected in the sand. I can bend now, and touch the gentle host of stars.

[from Sunday, 2 November and the Homecoming Parade in Belfast]

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