‘The Wren Boy’ by David Cooke

The Wren Boy

I must have been having the time
of my life the year I started singing,
trying hard to remember the words,
but high on applause and silver.

In the lounge bar of a pub
in Swinford I tried out a repertoire
I’d culled from the Clancys and mixed
to a Home Counties hybrid.

Shock-headed, crowd-pleasing,
I might have been one of their own,
giving them back The Irish Rover,
The Woman from Wexford Town.

Lured by the promise of easy pickings,
I tagged along St Stephen’s Day,
togged out as a mummer,
and welcomed for miles around.

Strapped across her shoulder,
my cousin lugged her squeezebox,
melodeon, whatever, down lanes
and over fields. At each house

we stopped I gave them my party piece,
while across the buttons and keys
perished fingers danced
like spiders on warm stones.

(Previously published in Cyphers)

David Cooke has appeared in many journals in the UK, Ireland and beyond in Agenda, Ambit, The Cortland Review, The Interpreter’s House, The Irish Times, The London Magazine, Magma, The Morning Star, New Walk, The North, Poem, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand. A Murmuration, his fourth collection was published by Two Rivers Press in 2015. His next collection, After Hours, will be published this year by Cultured Llama. He is a co-editor of The High Window.