The Necessity for Irony

by Eavan Boland

On Sundays,
when the rain held off,
after lunch or later,
I would go with my twelve year old
daughter into town,
and put down the time
at junk sales, antique fairs.

There I would
lean over tables,
absorbed by
lace, wooden frames,
glass. My daughter stood
at the other end of the room,
her flame-coloured hair
obvious whenever-
which was not often-

I turned around.
I turned around.
She was gone.

Grown. No longer ready
to come with me, whenever
a dry Sunday
held out its promises
of small histories. Endings.

When I was young
I studied styles: their use
and origin. Which age
was known for which
ornament: and was always drawn
to a lyric speech, a civil tone.
But never thought
I would have the need,
as I do now, for a darker one:

Spirit of irony,
my caustic author
of the past, of memory,-
and of its pain, which returns
hurts, stings-reproach me now,
remind me
that I was in those rooms,
with my child,
with my back turned to her,
searching-oh irony!-
for beautiful things.