Saturday, October 29, 2005

227. After the Rising

We picked our way through the rubble
on Friday evening, myself and my sister,
stepping over the broken tramlines
on O'Connell Steet, shaking our heads
at the shell-damaged buildings,
two females, silenced and appalled.

It seemed as though
nothing was left: the city
we had loved and lived in
was gone. It was destroyed.

"God's curse on these people
for the trouble they have caused",
said my sister, Dervla, petulantly,
she was trembling, walking by my side.
"God's curse on the bloody English"
said a voice which was my own.

"May God curse and blast
every single one of them,
every bloody bitches
bastard mother's son!"

Dervla sprang away from me
as well she might
shocked and scandalised
her mouth hanging open
(never before had she heard such language)
my genteel and proper sister.

Next day I went to work for the rebels
who had no other name,
not in those days, and a young fellow
breezed in from an English
prison, that would be 1917,
and ran me off my feet.

"Miss O'Grady", he said,
"you will take a memo, please,
and I want copies of the previous letter
with suitable amendments
typed and legible for my signature
by 5 o'clock this evening".

"Yes, Mr. Collins", I said,
"and would you mind very much
if I was just a little bit late
returning this afternoon?
It's just that the sales are on
at Brown Thomas in Grafton Street".

"Miss O'Grady, you astonish me.
Do you propose to gambol and play,
to disport yourself, to sling
about your hard earned shillings
(God knows how little I pay you)
in mercantile British corridors?"

Well, there was no answer to that.
I glared at him, furiously,
as he unleashed his wide and sunny grin.