Talk near the Ambush Site

by Michael Farry

They were anxious for truth, crammed
into the function room of the hill-top public house.
During the introductions we heard the commotion
the robbery, the high voices, the cart harnessed
the orders given, but not the quiet creep of armed men
the position-taking, the rehearsal of plans.

While I modestly listed my achievements
my volumes of hard facts and figures
we heard the first shots, the sharp exchanges
between career policemen and unsatisfied young
inspired by the long legend of resistance
and the recent bloodletting.

In the room opinions varied
and there were difficult questions. I think
I handled them well, skating over the issue of the killings
but as I rambled on towards an agreed ending
we could hear the argument, the pleas, the prayers
and then the final shots, almost make out
the fall of bodies on soft turf
see the long and difficult years ahead.

What could I have said?

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem featured on the Poetry Jukebox installation in Galway from July to October 2023.