I Grieve your Summer World

by Roisin Ní Neachtain

(For the women who were victims of sexual violence during the Irish Civil War)

Repeat this truth in darkness.
Repeat resist.
Repeat nothing.

Nothing like absence.

Nothing like silence

or the cost of cold light
demands on bodies,
sick alloy of fear and power.

Women are torn –
cast yet again
to horror a man’s war.

We listen here
so we might walk
in your memory.

I am the lowest witness,
petrified at the whole
of your unsleeping despair.

Can I see you living?
Grace and endurance on this disordered Earth,
your sound no longer hidden.

I grieve your summer world.
I reshape your rage
from the fragmented nightmare

of documents from which
I search
stains and dark fire,

wild pain of Ireland’s heart.
I listen and hold this to our sky,
remember your cut flesh

to my solitude.
Survive now.
Do not be destroyed.

Ascend to the mourning of skeleton stars
and let us cry, this day, the shadows
of your outstretched hands.

We stand by your names and graves.

This poem was inspired by newspaper archives, research by Linda Connolly and Mary McAuliffe, and Where Memory Lies by Eleanor Hooker.