Driving to the Island (Toraigh Island)
Wooden fingertips squeeze out leaves, some tight as nails
some unfurling green blossom in splashes of sunshine,
as the N56 doodles across model railway scenery.
Between the miles, black pennants hang from boards; men smile
within a pair of dates, March to May, and the flag of peace
squeezed between green native fields and Williamite Orange.
Another tight corner and another face looms casually snapped
when a camera was handy and a shutter snatched thousandths
of a second in a collision that will rust eventually.
They were my age and will be forever, except young and blind
to the future, a natural death most unnatural. Prisoners of history
and category mistakes they defined their actions acts of war not murder.
Walking down Main Street, Falcarragh, a doe-eyed girl peeks
from beneath a veil, head tilted like a thrush to see if anyone
has noticed how every step she takes brushes puberty.
Her eyes pool the colour of blackthorn sloes –
Her blood runs the colour of hawthorn haws –
Her white satin ripples in the uncommon easterly
floating her past the Shamrock Lodge B&B
towards a simulated wedding and state of grace.
She may undress in menstrual darkness but a glimpse
is all strange skills like beauty and violence require
in a world formed from grass, rain, milk and stars,
someone will try to love and drain desire.
On the front line, Magheroarty is a picture and Errigal etched sharp
as flint, a wad of cloud squats Muckish and Horn Head shows its horns.
Out to Toraigh an inverted sea accepts prodigal rain again.
After excrement the hard men stare back in today’s scoop
saved from a skip (the Maze gutted), a reminder of what happened next –
foundation used by clowns cakes a face sunk into a pillow of simian hair
an evolutionary/metabolic reversal, a trick of stubborn bravery.
The MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone lay on a waterbed,
bones piercing his paper organ, his body eating him to death,
a frantic improvisation to wake tomorrow – of all the ways
to take one’s breath away – leaning on the rail swallowing pills
to combat the relentless motion while staring at dolphins.