Burning, burnt, burning

by Nadja Hieber

Boy in the photograph,
You, standing there with your newspaper,
flattering in the wind,
a wind, no longer obstructed
by facades of St. Patrick’s street.

How have the shot noises and echoes of cries
changed in the absence of alleys
of houses and stores and livelihoods?
Are they now dissipating into
the filthy, dusty, smoky air? Are they now
swallowed much more slowly?

No place to hide anymore, from the crown and
from the sounds of death, on St Patrick‘s street.

Yesterday, the newspaper in your hands
might have been the last account.
Today: Who Burnt Cork City.
Tomorrow, I can hear twice as much
newspaper men and boys on this street, just like you.

The fire ceased, and yet there is no ceasefire.

Cornelius Delaney’s death,
his body driven down
this sad sight of a street you are here to witness
buried in the ashes. His funeral
a public event to mourn. For him.
For you. For the Corkonians.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshops led by Dr. Jessica Bundschuh in University of Stuttgart in 2023.

This poem was written as a response to a photograph of the façade of Sunner’s Pharmaceutical and Dispensing Chemist at 31 Patrick Street, Cork, destroyed by the Black and Tans in December 1920.

Date: 15th December 1920
Collection: Hogan Wilson Collection
Reference: HOGW 153
Archive: National Library of Ireland