Shades of Division

by Finola Scott

for Thomas H McKenzie

Shrunk, crumpled, grey jowls trembling,
the hands of this oul fella from Cork shake,
as he scans the paper, for names in black and white.
What dark trouble is this he’s trapped in now?

Passchendaele? That sucking tide, shrapnel
exploding his head, his jaw, red on khaki,
gas drowning lungs. These Irish Guards
going over the top for that king’s silver,
taken as hungry famine slyly haunts near.

Perhaps Clare’s green villages, hedgerows torn?
Patrolling once quiet lanes, the shock and violence
of those mismatched Black and Tans. Father against
son, priest against neighbour. Transformed, baptised
a Military Area, its starry nights shattered. Barns, fields
and roads run scarlet with death. Mistrust prowls.

Maybe Belfast? Where he was sent ‘for safety’,
the first born in his pram, a brick uncivilly through
a window, glass cut baby. Where he protected beaten
wives, looked out for abused children, tried to
make the streets safe for all. Where he waved flags
with grandchildren on redwhiteandblue painted kerbs.

Now he’s dying to the tsunami of helicopters,
whup whupping the city, to roads barricaded, to
Shorland armoured cars, curfews and scarlet blood.

Reproduced with the kind permission of the author. Finola Scott, born of Irish parents, lives and writes in Scotland. Writing in Scots and English, her work is published widely in magazines, online and anthologies as well as in her three pamphlets. She has achieved success in many competitions including The McLellan Competition and winning The Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie. She loves performing her poetry especially at the Scottish Parliament and The Edinburgh Book Festival.