Lido Café

First he taught us to step off
the back of a moving CIE bus,
run a few steps to absorb
momentum before turning back
like he’d done on the Crumlin Road
in his theology student days;
then how to sprinkle vinegar
down into the paper cone
— even if it wasn’t a Telegraph —
before dredging with salt, lightly
juggling heat, first time we’d
seen a plastic tomato of ketchup
or smoked-glass coffee cups,
first time we’d been out in a café
together, the girls asleep in Mrs
McKee’s on the Clontarf Road,
his brother and sister coming
down next day to help out with
the seven of us but tonight just
John, me and him on a CIE bus.

from THE YEAR OF NOT DANCING, first published in POETRY LONDON, 2008

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