Them Fellas

by Anonymous

I remember, as a child,
The awkwardness
Around the subject
The tale of Black and Tans
Arriving in our yard
Searching for the rebels
Neighbours, old men now
Blessing themselves at noon

I remember, too, the fear
That skirted the table
When Troubles filled the screen
And conversation was shut down
My father’s eyes telling us that he knew
More than he was saying
Of goings on in fields, at crossroads
Or by quarry
During the Independence War
The bloody Civil

Old times, bad times
Stories passed on to him
In the ether

I remember, too, my mother’s prayer
That history wouldn’t repeat itself
That weapons wouldn’t be unearthed
And houses burned again
And the challenge, as a teen, of weighing up
Patriotism and Pearse
Of stepping up
Versus what’s right or wrong
Admiration seeping in for those
With words not guns
In their arsenal

‘Them fellas’ll all die roaring’, my father said
Retribution for the breaking of a commandment
That he could not overlook

I remember watching one of those old men
His wife teaching me to crochet
His tea spilling as it moved
From table to lip
And wondering if he would die roaring
Any why
I remember thinking he was a quiet man
Who wouldn’t harm a fly
As I mastered double crochet
Twined wool around unskilled fingers
As he stared out the window
Across McGuire’s bog
At the rushes

I remember, too, not really knowing
What to make of the tricolour
That draped his coffin
On the wet day of his funeral
And not knowing how to hook the loop of the past
Bring it up into the present
Make it sit neatly

I still don’t know


Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at Wexford Archives  on 20th and 27th of March 2023. The workshops were led by writer Mark Granier and archivist Gráinne Doran.