Near and Far

by Lily Nguyen

Inside of you there’s a mayhem of forces of nature
Your enraged eruption of curses against the one
Who put your beloved boys into this prison
Your sweeping storm of accusing screams against the culprit
Who you want to charge for murder
Your tearful tide from your sorrowful crying
Because of how far away they are from you

Yet Ernest’s groaning from having nothing
But pain -no water nor bread- in his body reaches you
Or Cecil’s and Patrick’s cry for innocence
Because all they’d committed was sharing Ernest’s blood

Once you retreat from the dreadful conflicts
You make use of the gentle and sweet voice to pray for your sons
It’s the very voice that your sons recognize from your lullabies
It shows a mother’s love

Outside, it’s like your tunes were all recorded,
Duplicated and played like on a radio
Soldier’s rage, mothers’ and daughters’ sorrow
All of them, clearer than any broadcast with the highest range

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 letter from Marion O’Malley, Ernie O’Malley’s mother, to
Richard Mulcahy Commander in Chief of the Free State Army, in which she states that should any of her three imprisoned sons die, she would have him indicted for murder (UCD Archives P17a/289).