Day 49 of 365 – Gerard Hanberry


The Earth Circles the Sun


The day our teacher in a gust of inspiration
called on O’Donnell to stand up at his desk
in the middle of the room –

Now boys, it’s like this,
O’Donnell there is the sun,
just look at his big head of red hair.

We all laughed at lanky O’Donnell
standing up in the middle of the room
and his mad head of red hair.

You Kelleher, stand over there near the window,
your head is the Earth, what is he boys?
‘The Earth, Sir’, we sing-songed.

Now Gannon, you go over and stand beside Kelleher,
your head is the Moon, what is he boys?
‘The Moon, Sir,’ we sing-songed again.

This is the tricky bit now lads –
Gannon, you start walking in circles around Kelleher.
Kelleher, you start pacing around the room.

O’Donnell you stay standing exactly where you are,
and wipe that smirk off your face.
Now, Kelleher, start turning slowly as you go.

They made their way to the back wall, Kelleher walking
and turning, Gannon circling Kelleher,
then across the room and up the other side.

Now boys, that’s the solar system, the Earth
goes around the Sun, the Moon goes around the earth,
do ye understand? ‘Yes Sir”, we chorused.

And how long will it take for Kelleher to get back to the start?
‘About three minutes,’ Freddy Glynn giddy in the front desk.
You’re a fool Glynn, what is he boys? ‘A fool, Sir’.

Tell them sun.
‘A year Sir, to circle the sun’, O’Donnell’s face
as red now as his hair.

He praised O’Donnell, explained about leap years,
how given enough space he could set out all the planets
even as far as Pluto.

Then Gannon fell over the rubbish basket,
Kelleher fell over Gannon,
and that ended the lesson.

Kelleher lives today in New York City,
a musician, and a fine one too.
Mike Gannon is in local politics.

Glynn has fingers in many pies
and flies a helicopter, goes racing.
Peter O’Donnell joined the army

and one day on a tour of U.N. duty,
his blue beret tucked under his arm
when he stood up tall on the rampart

to scan the dusty terrain,
a sniper put a bullet in his head.
His red hair an easy target,

even from a mile away,
like the sun, it was said,
against that perfect Lebanese sky. 


From At Grattan Road
by Gerard Hanberry
Published by Salmon in 2009
Copyright © Gerard Hanberry, 2009



Gerard Hanberry is an award-winning poet living and working in Galway on the west coast of Ireland. His fourth book of poems, What Our Shoes Say About Us, was published by Salmon in 2014. It followed his 2009 collection At Grattan Road, also from Salmon Poetry, a collection the Irish Times said was ‘bursting at the seams with fine poems’. Gerard Hanberry has also published a biography of the Wilde family More Lives Than One – the Remarkable Wilde Family Through the Generations (The Collins Press). He is a teacher of English at St. Enda’s College, Galway and delivers a creative writing module at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He lives, overlooking Galway Bay, with his wife Kerry.

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