Alison McCrossan

The Other Place

I abandoned my stomping ground of oak and ash, 

and beech spiralling through fallen gunpowder-mill roofs, 

a girl alone in the ruins, and went walking to the city, 

to this bar I’d heard about. 

All the colourful buildings I passed, mostly pale red, blackening 

at the edges, had shops and offices on the ground storeys, 

the upper storeys dated and ready to fall. The entrance to the bar 

was off the main street in an alleyway that smelled stale 

like damp had drilled into the bones of it. There was no one at the door. 

I could hear voices inside competing with synth leaking through bricks. 

I trudged away, strode back, stood an age at this new place, 

glanced over my shoulder, made myself bigger, made myself smaller – 

And as the beats and laughter like swells of rooks over trees in mills

Intensified, exultation, 

I went and lugged my heart away, away and back again, my heart.

Alison McCrossan is from Cork. Publications include The Honest Ulsterman, Stand, Orbis, and Southword. She was longlisted for The National Poetry Competition 2022 and shortlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2023.