Slice of Life #17: Raise a Glass

March 17.

St. Patrick’s Day.

If you told me a few years ago that you celebrated,
I’d think you meant:
You dressed in green from head to toe
and drank green beer in the daylight.

I might have been down; 
Once, I let my best friend,
a drag queen,
paint my lips to mimic
the Irish flag.

The next year,
another, red-haired friend and I, 
we made our own shepherd’s pie
and washed it down with Guinness
as she introduced me to Game of Thrones.
(I was horrified). 

My 5th and final year in college 
(my chance to study abroad, 
to complete my Spanish major),
I lived in Madrid, Spain.

On the 17th, a friend and I went to a pub. 
One beer later, we went home. 

A few weeks later,
we traveled to Ireland. 
I didn’t know I was homesick
until I arrived on Irish soil. 

In Dublin, we stayed in a hostel. 
The next morning, bright and early,
we hopped a bus to Galway,
then the Cliffs of Moher. 

As I walked the cobblestone streets
in the gloom of a rainy day,
I felt refreshed
for the first time in months.

Was it the English language
finding its way back to me again?
Was it the friendly, small town faces,
the bus ride into the countryside,
the fish and chips, meat and potatoes,
the familiar ratio of bars to churches,
and green, green everywhere, vibrant
even through the rain-speckled windows?

It reminded me of my home,
of my childhood car rides
to my parents’ church,
out in the countryside.

I listened to music I’d claimed as my religion in middle school
as the busses took us from place to place,
across the country in a day
as I dreamed of whiskey, waitressing, summers at home. 

These days, when I see
the tacky green face paint,
the lime green tutus,
I’m disappointed.
what this St. Patrick’s Day celebrates, 
was my reawakening,
a spiritual experience
when I needed it most.

So tonight,
no green beer for me.

I’ll stay in.
Prepare a shepherd’s pie
and raise my Guinness
to the Ireland
that caught my heart. 


14 thoughts on “Slice of Life #17: Raise a Glass

  1. This is awesome, Danielle! Absolutely love it. You’ve captured an awakening of sorts, and reverence for your childhood as well as your heritage.

    I’m not Irish at all (as far as I know). But I’m enjoying a Guinness as we speak. (My wife is heavily Irish, so I feel I’m entitled, by marriage.) I hereby raise my glass to you!


  2. This is a beautiful poem about the historic origins of St. Patrick’s Day. My wife lived in Galway and always says that no American St. Patrick’s Day celebration rivals the celebrations in Ireland. Tonight, we, too, eat shepherd’s pie and relive the memories of my wife’s stay in Ireland. Thank you for sharing! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have heard the Irish are amused and mystified by how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the US. This is a beautiful tribute poem. You make me remember the importance of the green; its the Emerald Isle, with its damp, cool climate. I feel that refreshing air with you. So many good lines- I particularly like “the familiar ratio of bars to churches”- I find that so original and expressive. Also, the ‘rain speckled windows.’


  4. This was such a beautifully written tribute to the day. I like how you detail the change in what the holiday means as you grow and learn and evolve. It’s just so full of imagery. Thank you for sharing!


  5. What a beautiful tribute to how important Ireland is to you. I never quite understood the dressing all in green and getting pissed at the pub thing for St. Patty’s Day.


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