The Split

by Peter Etherson


I never saw the split coming.


God, how I idolised him;

my big brother.

All my life I had tortured him

‘Take me with you, take me with you’


His broad shoulders carried me;

to football matches (lord how he could catch a ball)

to ‘the pictures’ (Davy Crockett my first)

Summers in Belfast

helping out on the bread van

(Hughes’s bread, Hughes bread, sticks to your belly like a lump of lead)

Mornings – 6 O’Clock – fresh bread smells

warm baps – workers waiting – hungry men

don’t dare be late.


It took just a spit second


I never saw the faulty wires.

never saw the flash

never saw him again.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at The Belfast Linen Hall Library, Belfast, in 2022. The workshops were led by Maria McManus.