Molecule Chain

by Shaanthi Gunasekara

A tinderbox full of violence,
sparkled with lightning silence
Black and Tans going hand in hand
with firing, not admiring bombs,
burning down the sonorous sound of existing.

That night
a firework was heard
from strangers far far away,
barely breathing, but coughing in a crescendo
And I heard, premises were
buried on their best behaviour

The edge of the sky
Red as a squealing sunset,
setting down Grant’s drapery store,
Lee’s cinema and many,
many more.

Can you feel?
The early and eery smell of cadaver
City of Cork,
don’t do me that favor.

All they left
an innocent act of incendiarism
a pure pharmaceutical facade
consiting of concentrated carbon dioxide
a denatured molecule chain
of a city that died.

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