And Yet Another Fight

by Róisín Ní Mhóráin

Westport hotels open to Ukraine. The town puts on a welcome. We, they, gather. On stage, ten women and a somewhat awkward man link arms, voices raised in song. Food is baked, stalls womanned.

One man walks in among the throng, his step made strange. Two small feet stand on one of his, small arms entwine his father’s leg. He won’t let go. Down at the back, families gather. Mothers whisper to each other, sometimes to the little kids. Some children run. Some sit. A song of fatherland is sung. A father in the crowd swoops to lift a loving child into his arms. They hug. They leave. The Daddy’s face a mask of awfulness.

I wonder how these loving men will face what surely waits for them, here, there, then, after. Taunts, recriminations, false accusations, loss, sorrow and despair. I wonder at their bravery. The need for them. And more.

I think of everything I’d do to stop my son go to war. Of how little choice I’d have, he’d have, if faced with tanks on every road, the stories that would be told. I think of all the boys I know who could not, would not face a fight, of the price paid in men brutalized beyond redemption, and of the land, the country, home, still to be made. What stories, they’ll tell, then. After.


Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the National Museum of Ireland — Country Life, Co. Mayo, in November, 2022. The workshops were led by poet Terry McDonagh.