Ode to Suburbia
By Eavan Boland
Six o’clock: the kitchen bulbs which blister
Your dark, your housewives starting to nose
Out each other’s day, the claustrophobia
Of your back gardens varicose
With shrubs, make an ugly sister
Of you suburbia.
How long ago did the glass in your windows subtly
Silver into mirrors which again
And again show the same woman
Shriek at a child? Which multiply
A dish, a brush, ash,
The gape of a fish.
In the kitchen, the gape of a child in the cot?
You swelled so that when you tried
The silver slipper on your foot
It pinched your instep and the common
Hurt which touched you made
No creature of the streets will feel the touch
Of a wand turning the wet sinews
Of fruit suddenly to a coach,
While this rat without leather reins
Or a whip or britches continues
Sliming your drains.
No magic here. Yet you encroach until
The shy countryside, fooled
By your plainness falls, then rises
From your bed changed, schooled
Forever by your skill,
Midnight and your metamorphosis
Is now complete, although the mind
Which spinstered you might still miss
Your mystery now, might still fail
To see your power defined
By this detail.
By this creature drowsing now in every house—
The same lion who tore stripes
Once off zebras. Who now sleeps,
Small beside the coals. And may,
On a red letter day,
Catch a mouse.