Backpacks cinched around our innocence,
we take the bus to Belfast City.

We want the excitement
heavy on our shoulders:
for tourists
it's all in the balance.
We walk all day
past Queen's, down Castle Street
and Donegall;
or greenly in the sun, sleep;
ignore the plastic packaging
on City Hall;
the workmen,
behind Victoria's chubby, granite,
satisfied butt,
re-building that Queen
again.  Again.

We carry the city
on our tourist-shoulders
and we keep the balance.

At checkpoints we move from gun
to guilt.
I think, it is my own.

I only wanted enough excitement
to balance my bedroll.
Not this silence;
this patient history

held in amber;
in these young soldiers' eyes.

Sharon Kourous