Thursday, January 29, 2009

Planting a hedge in Tuar Mhic Éadaigh

I planted my heel
In the thin black earth,
Struggling for a firm hold,
Then drove the blade down,
Felt it bite on stone,
Jar my back to the bone.

Frail twigs dropped
Into v-shaped slots,
Tamped in place,
Left to face the west wind,
The drawing of the lots.

Work done, I walked
Along the lough side,
Oblivious of those
Who walked beside me,
More bowed with every step,
Dumb with exhaustion,
Eyes fixed on feet,
Cut to ribbons by the sleet.

The hillside, bare-ribbed,
Barren, dispassionate,
Observed the wretched trail
Dwindle with each incoming wave,
The bay yawn into an open grave

While the colonel and the captain
Sat before a roaring fire in Delphi Lodge,
Taking their port at leisure
And though the wind vainly
Rattled the window panes,
Nothing could spoil this simple pleasure.

The hedge has grown tall.
Strong tendrils reach deep down,
Grasping the bone beneath.
After all these years,
New life is still firmly rooted
In death.

This poem has been a long time coming. I can’t believe that almost eight years have past since Kath and I went with our dear friend Rebecca to plant that hedge. I didn’t know then, about the events at Louisburgh and Delphi Lodge, although they occurred within a day’s journey of where we were staying. Nor did I know of Colonel Hogrove and Captain Primrose and of the four hundred bodies washed up along the coast of Killary and I didn’t have a chance to visit the monument to this act of genocide in Doolough Valley which bears the words of Ghandi, “How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings?” You do not have to dig very deep to uncover the most bestial acts of savagery and it seems that we will never learn. This picture was taken on the annual ‘Famine Walk’ to commemorate not only the Doolough massacre, but the two million who perished in those years and as you can see I was not the first to make a connection.

1 comment:

  1. Iknow nothing of this massacre, forgive my ignorance,I will look it up. Thank you for writing it.