Seedsman — April 1918

by Sinéad McClure

i.m Christopher McClure (Able Bodied Seaman)

You were there when the ships went down.
Your delicate frame, your thin features, creased on impact.
Da said you were wiry,
a hot head of hair and a temper to match.
Rage, after rage. Da kept his inside
as if expecting a long forgotten roar.

You were there when the ships went down.
Far away from the big houses of Killiney
where you kept hedges neat.
Nothing to tend out there, nothing to prune,
nothing to mow. Nothing
but the startled rise of panic.

This is where you found your fury
in the cries of your shipmates
and the rise of the hunting waves.
Fire, smoke, gun, cannon, salty skin,
screams whet on lips.
A cacophony that stayed a lifetime.

Ships steered towards the seabed
and through the darkness sailed
Gardener’s boats; Daffodil, Iris.

Maybe they bloomed for you
between the bangs and the bullets,
and on that April evening
let you sail back to Strathmore Road,
to turn once again towards the hill
where the scent became more than just the sea.


Reproduced with kind permission of the author whose grandfather, an Irishman, saw battle in Zeebrugge Belgium during World War I.