Worse Things Happen in War

by Gerry Hanberry

(i.m. Margaret (Peg) Broderick Nicholson, Cumann na mBan)

Otherwise they ‘weren’t too rough’ she said later,
those men in crude masks
who dragged her from her home
into the darkness of the street,

-‘What wonderful curls you’ve got’-
hacked them with scissors,
blunt as their brutal warnings,
then laughed and said ‘Goodnight now, girl!’.

Next day, alive and grateful for it,
she made two stops First to the barbers
to have her cropped head shaved to the scalp,
all the better for fresh growth.

Next to the photographer’s,
her defiance captured in a half-smile,
indefatigable, -‘Worse things happen in war‘-
then never again spoke, not even once,

of the shudders in her chest
on the long nights after,
spent counting down
the slow silent hours to the dawn.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. Gerard Hanberry is an award-winning poet currently working on his fifth collection from Salmon Poetry. He also writes non fiction including a biography of the family of Oscar Wilde and latest book ‘On Raglan Road – Great Irish Love Songs and the Women Who Inspired Them’ (Gills). He has facilitated several Poetry as Commemoration workshops.