09 September 2012

Unknownst to the People

Unknownst to the People

                   by Bernard O'Donoghue

The small boy's clothes smelt terrible:
Goats, maybe pig droppings -- or something worse.
We had to defumigate the car
After we'd unwisely picked him up
Out of the rain on his way to shop
In Carriganima (where Art O'Leary
Met his poetic martyrdom.)

A strange accent: north of England
Overlaid with the aspirates of North Cork.
He told us about his Mum and Dads,
And how they'd built the palisade themselves
From bits and pieces of discarded wood.

All that summer, though we never saw
The occupants, we watched the holding grow
In confidence on his small quarter-acre:
The washing hung to dry; plastic buckets
Lying around. And always the blue of woodsmoke.

When we came back next spring, the whole place
Was gone, only marked by soaking, charred wood.
A year later again, and green grass was growing
To the neatly locked gate at the roadside.
We asked around, but no one seemed to know
Where they had gone to, or why,
And everyone looked downward to the ground.

From Bernard O'Donoghue, Here Nor There, 1999.

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