The Medal Lies Heavy on the Fold-Up Table

by Mark Doris

The medal lies heavy on the fold-up table,
its recipient a ghost; silent now,
what did he say, the day they honoured him?

What did he do to merit this? What did he see?
This was not a football match:
there was killing to be done.

A soft-bellied officer shot from behind a roadside hedge,
bleeding out near his family farm,
caught on the wrong side of the fence.

Perhaps the recipient stayed silent,
placed the medal in a drawer
to be found years later by his daughter

whose Daddy, who fought for Ireland,
now tries to cry but words will not come right:
our history has been [standardized]

or was it [compromised]?, he said.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the Thomas MacDonagh Museum on 20th and 21st of September, 2023. The workshops were led by poet Thomas McCarthy.

Cover Image: War of Independence Service Medal, Thomas MacDonagh Museum collection.