Saturday, November 06, 2004

115. A Childhood Incident (poem)

Just the other day
I met a girl
and she smiled
at me, and I thought

of my dead sister
and those
in Inchigeelagh

fifteen years ago.
It was nobody's
fault, they said,
yet I know

it was a carefully
planned murder.
I was fifteen
and away at school

called home
for the funeral.
My mother, distraught,
and my useless

Father, fondling
his unlit pipe and
dithering, stroking
his moustache.

They were country
police, Gardai Siochana,
touching their caps.

"So sorry for your
trouble", they said,
the wellworn formula
for local tragedy

so often seen
so often suffered
in the cottages
on these green and misty hills:

farm accidents
tubercular children
the drunken exchange of blows
outside the village pub

resulting in death.
Her death, I knew,
was no accident.
But what could I say?

Time followed
the rains dropped down
and my mother
went into a decline

while my father
drank whiskey
fingered his moustache
and lost money.

God rot them
I thought, in England,
and later in Japan
trying to set aside

the inevitable
tribal requirement.
I knew him
and he knew I knew.