“Global Village” by Indran Amirthanayagam:

A Poem Written after Reading Anne Casey’s “In Memoriam II: The Draper”

  • Originally from the west of Ireland, Anne Casey is an award-winning Sydney-based poet, journalist and editor. She is author of Where the Lost Things Go (Ediciones Salmon Poetry, 20217) and Out of Emptied Cups (Salmon Poetry, 2019).

  • Poet, essayist, and translator, Indran Amirthanayagam was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He was raised in Sri Lanka, London, and Honolulu. Amirthanayagam has authored numerous poetry collections, including The Elephants of Reckoning (1993), Ceylon, R.I.P. (2001), The Splintered Face (2008), Uncivil War (2013), Coconuts on Mars (2019), The Migrant States (2020), Sur l’ile nostalgique (2020), and Lírica a tiempo (2020).

Instead of a review on the poetry by Anne Casey, Amirthanayagam decided to honour her works and our webpage on contemporary Irish literature by writing a poem as a reaction to one of Casey’s best-known works, “In Memoriam II: The Draper”:

Global Village

You are sitting behind the counter
at the shop of all sorts. Everybody
pops in at some point in the day

to share a confidence, to buy
some sugar, to get the news
of the boy next door. You know

everything and everyone
of course, who is sleeping
with whom, who claims

an extra child on his taxes,
who won the religion prize
at the primary school. You are

the living historian, ombudsman
and woman, seamless glue,
necessary spark and fount

to keep the community humming
So when you decided to shutter
up and join your daughter

in America I don't know
what sprite had punctured
your mind, to sacrifice

all that you held in your hands,
to retire, to cross the dark sea
and land in some linguistic trick,

New Amsterdam, New York New
Rochelle, New England
and all the remaking you can

entertain, including dropping
of the apron, the brogue,
the old confidence to learn

how to negotiate a few
hundred channels on television,
a doctor who does not come home,

a supermarket with produce
from India, Korea and Japan.
and a certain frankness,

young women in skin tight
running suits, men expected
to keep their eyes away

but don't. Now, that at least
has not changed across
the water, and I must admit

even at home in Galway
or Dublin, wherever
you look the world's goods

are stacked on the shelves,
and the paddy Indians
are most welcome as well.

          Indran Amirthanayagam
          February 28, 2021