History Books

by Niamh O'Connell

Just stories in books about history.
An archival letter. A stranger’s handwriting
documenting a rebels’ visit. They practiced
shooting an old carpet in the farmyard
before they sat down to have their tea.

Just stories in books about history.
A memory of a woman, delicate & thin,
born before the republic. In the nursing
home’s conservatory she shoos away a bee
& sucks on a shard of chocolate Easter egg.

Just stories in books about history.
My great-grandfather’s name carved
in stone in Edenderry. His daughter,
my grandmother, shares memories.
She reminds us, or consoles herself,
that everyone did their own bit.

Go tobann, piocaim leabhar ghramadaí.
An leabhar staire eile. Foghlaimím na focail:
Go raibh maith agaibh.
Táim óg agus tá a fhios agam an tsíocháin.
Bhí sibh óga agus bhí a fhios agaibh íobairt.
Go raibh maith agaibh.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Cork City Library in September, 2022. The workshops were led by poet Thomas McCarthy.