Fatherland by Maggie McShane

Long listed for the WRITE ABOUT WALKING AND LISTENING competition run in July & August 2021

‘Fine day fer it, grab yer jaicket but we need to be quick,’ 
Flurries of arms and buttons, words eddying
And tumbling under the spark of faither’s eye
As we leave the sisters sitting in their seats -
Just him and I.

A shaft of sunlight piercing our concrete, close-hidden lives 
Rolling green bin bags mark our moor-steeped horizon 
Words and passion flickering through his mind,
A Heathcliff of the street.
Me? His roiling cloak behind.

Telling tales forged in Irish farms, he taps our advance 
Dropping wars and famines into my eager hands
But below
Others’ songs treacherously tapped my feet,
The sunshine drumming our summer into their insistent beat.

‘Hurry up or we’ll not make it before ...’
His tenor and tenure hushed by the marching tunes 
Tattooing louder, faster and closer
They dragged me to a halt
My shoes couldn’t escape their emerald-tinged roots 
Heartland and homeland softening my vowels
Whilst tuning others’ flutes.

Early words rendered in green, and golden glories 
History stitched through slip jigs, songs and stories.

‘Right, take your coat off, stand still, don’t move.’
Our journey tied to the kerb and the past, by sashes being bared. 
The green of my coat shouting to be heard.
Sleeves slipping, hands fumbling to hide its unwitting colour code, 
Until Faither grabbed it,
Folded it,
rustling the white lining to the sky,
as the orange music marched on by.

Itching to write something yourself? Submit a piece to our Shorelines project, and invite your friends to read it aloud, for a chance to win a prize. Join one of our creative writing workshops or keep up to date with all our competitions by signing up to our curated newsletter here.

Read more from the Long List of stories submitted to the WRITE ABOUT WALKING & LISTENING competition. Listen to winning authors read their work at a showcase event on Sunday 26 September 2021 book here.

Buy WALKING – the 2021 limited edition illustrated chapbook anthology of 15 poems and stories inspired by walking and listening €4.50 + p&p

All proceeds go to support future Sound Walk Septembers



Maggie McShane is a writer, journalist and poet based in Scotland. She has had work published across the globe and is interested in the intersection between poetry and politics.

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