In this young lad’s life, I’ve come to acknowledge
my worth as the gatekeeper of his hopes; his dreams
and the rumbling threat of imminent strife. I relish
these evenings with Christy; the seamless flow of words,
the fountain pen dip and hypnotic lull of his gentle
breathing. The glide of ink on a crisp, new page reveal
the profound and banal from this fearless young sage,
minutiae gleaned from ordinary mornings. He captures
memories on film, develops photos at every opportunity;
his cherubic face bestowing impunity as he tends to his
beloved fiddle, nourishing the bow with a rosin nub –
an unlikely scout hovering in the bustling pub. Chronicling
every card game, dance and Hollywood movie he notes each
curfew and failed explosion; identifies teenage snipers fatally
wounded. Codes remain undeciphered, though you can’t embellish
death by bullet, bomb or ambush, nor justify the missing limbs
of sacrificial sons. I’m stashed in a trunk beneath cotton
sheets and suits of heavy wool, muffling music and banter
from below wafting out onto lamplit streets, acrid
with rubble dust and the ferrous tang of days-old blood.
Bullets whistle through the air as he’s swept along
by the romanticism of traditional song and layers of
euphonious melodies. I’m fearful of Christy disclosing
too much, but what would restraint achieve; save for
burdening the lad with impatient secrets biding their
time for release? All I have are snow-white pages
to keep his dreams intact – a buffer for his teenage
ramblings and idealistic heart and hope that he’ll always
have his camera, fiddle and bow.
Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshop held at Kerry County Museum in September 2023. The workshop was led by writer John W. Sexton.
Inspired by the diary of 16-year-old Christopher Patrick O’Grady held at Kerry County Museum.