Leaving Belfast


The planes fly so low over the houses in the east
their undercarriages seem like the stomachs of giant birds;
the skyline in town is the ragged, monitored heartbeat
of a difficult patient; the river holds its own,
and for every torn-up billboard and sick-eating pigeon
and execrable litter-blown street round Atlantic Avenue
there's some scrap of hope in the young, in the good looks of women,
in the leafiness of the smart zones, in the aerobatics of starlings.

There are good times and bad times, yes, but now you are
burning your bridges, and you are leaving Belfast
to its own devices: it will rise or fall,
it will bury its past, it will paper over the cracks
with car parks and luxury flats, it will make itself new—or perhaps
become the place it seemed before you lived here.