Published in Live Encounters, Reading the Lines, Easter 1916 Commemorative Edition, May 2016
Weary feet trudge onward. I unfold
my white handkerchief in a vain attempt
to quell unease. In my wake, bodies and decay.
I dab at gun-smoke streaming eyes, cover my nose.
Silent witness to the atrocities of war.
Children climb over rubbled buildings,
scavenging firewood to pile high
in the black baby pram. It squeals
in protest as they push it over debris
covered cobbled streets.
I’d heard of the death of a two year old.
“Caught in the crossfire,” I’d been told.
“A single shot fired, entered his pram,
penetrated his head. Yet his sibling,”
they said, “survived. Unharmed.”
I imagine I hear his cry.
Screams and bullets. Flames engulf buildings.
His mother, his sibling, how they must ache
for his sacrifice so Eire can be free,
a land he will never grow to see.
Now and in time to be,
wherever green is worn,
all changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
*“The idea behind Reading The Lines derives from William Butler Yeats’ Easter 1916. Poets were invited to choose a line from this iconic work which resonated for them, either culturally, politically or historically. The chosen line was then given a new lease of poetic life, forming a transitional bridge from the now of 2016 to a century ago and the events which led up to or followed on from Ireland becoming a Republic.”
– Eileen Casey, Irish Poet and Writer