I come from Irish roots:
from County Cork
and green glens,
from hills so achingly beautiful
and desolate misty cliffs.
From lands whispered reverently across grandpa's thin lips.
I come from Irish tastes,
from every meal prepared
with some form of potato:
french fried, home fried, baked, boiled,
whipped, hashed, and pancaked.
In shepherd's pie and hearty stews.
I come from Irish storytellers,
who wrote or lamented,
Drunken ballads rehearsed in pubs.
I come from Irish Catholics,
whose religion taught them
to shun birth control,
and as a result,
John and Carol had:
Carol Ann, Kathy, John, Mark, Patrick, Robert, Michael, Martha, Thomas, Anne, James, William, Joseph, and Mary.
I come from Irish secrets,
from hot tempers,
and too many drinks,
from alcoholism and frailty,
from hush-hush and follow rules.
A nation mourns because of its collective silence.
I come from Irish blessings
from Danny Boy and fare-thee-wells,
from 'luck o' the Irish,'
and 'Brian Barou',
and whistling tunes from ear.
On this St. Patrick's Day I think of my grandparents,
who both left me this decade,
after 94 and 96 years of living.
And I remember them with this blessing:
"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand."
Until I see you again Grandma and Grandpa.
Happy St. Patrick's Day.
About the Author
Brian Kissel is an Associate Professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His focus is writing instruction. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hattie and three kiddos: Charlie, Ben, and Harriet.