The Things You Carried, I Carry Them Too

by Nuala Roche

A softening in the air when the shop bell quiets,
nail-graze over nylon, you fidget, itching to move.
Your widowed mother keeps shop, selling on tick
turning collars back on themselves, her tea-and-buns
venture under watchful eye in ‘21. The warning shot
shrieks through a bedroom window, bullet glancing off
bed-frame, whistling towards the door jamb. Next,
you hoik yourself out the window, muzzle-energy
propelling you to the boat. Later, lying in the dark
you swear you hear the bullet whining over the sea,
over your head, and tremble in the wake of your eiderdown.
Now, I unpack your heirlooms:  butter dish, dog figurine
and the empty brass casing that drops to the floor—
its bright ping, a shop bell announcing your return home.

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