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Saturday, 27 August 2011

SMITHFIELD MARKET, BELFAST

The musty smell was wonderful, stale
damp, sour but comfortable and safe,
a sense of having been here for years,
secure for trade, exchange and sale.


Over two hundred years, day to day
buying and selling of farm produce,
hides, livestock, social and commercial
patter, agreements, prices to pay.


A quadrangle of single storey
shops filled the former open space,
where cows once stood, books, furniture, odds
and ends, mixed value antiques, hoary,


dusty with that thick seductive smell
teased and tempted the streams of browsers.
"I BUY ANYTHING" said Kavanagh,
McQuillan's "RECORDS TO BUY AND SELL",


Hugh Greer "BOOKSELLER" for well-thumbed
tomes on every subject known to man,
key cutters, scissor sharpeners, clothes
in heaps, as thrifty shoppers haaed and hummed.


The the fire in nineteen seventy four.
What a blaze, what sadness in the ash
as I rummage through my younger man's thoughts
for things new buildings cannot restore.



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