by Annemarie Nugent

A small sordid settlement;
Inevitable that it should be so.
In navigation, if you go one degree wrong
You may end up in a terrible place.

You take that, we’ll keep this.
Because you were anathema to them.
You proved it with your wrongness,
Your manifest cruelty.
No wonder they are still smug.
So sure, still, of your immorality.

See how you cherished the children?
Claimed allegiance of every Irishman?
Maybe not all the children,
And definitely not all the women,
And let’s assimilate the Travellers,
Must we still have Jews?
Must we take the Muslims?
The Blacks and Browns were OK
Until they started coming in droves.
Do unto others
(Does that have to include refugees?)

What would the poets think of us?
The Gaeilgeorí who revived the language
On the brink of death?
What would James Connolly think
Of the emasculated trade unions
That fight no longer
But nod a quick yes when instructed?

I wanted heroines as a girl
But it was long years
Before I heard Markievicz,
Then Skinnider decades later,
And O’Farrell hidden behind Pearse.
Hanny Sheehy Skeffington:
What a marvelous name!
But why did I know Pankhurst’s name first?
Which Irish feminists helped win me a vote?

Lots of liminal local lesbians
Were revolutionaries
And you can’t be having that!
Leave out, ‘liminate them
Ná lig leo leas a bhaint
Laissez les lesbiennes.
Not in OUR land.

Start again from where we are.
Cherish them all.
Whatever the gender,
Whatever the colour,
Whatever their income.
Don’t let’s be embarrassed anymore
By their ideals –
And our shortcomings.
You can’t get Utopia,
But adequate would be nice.
Emulate, imitate Monsieur Coué:
Every day, and in every way,
We COULD become better and better –

Remember their cause
We were told not to dishonour it.
Keep that in mind.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the Thomas MacDonagh Museum on 20th and 21st of September, 2023. The workshops were led by poet Thomas McCarthy.