Séamas Carraher: Famine Grave, Skibereen, West Cork

i am a very different nonperson
these bones and all that
ache and collapse in this
iron-lung without forgiveness.
i am a cold stone and a warming grass
that skims at twilight
through bush and lane like
a bird of prey picking its meat
from the unspeakable.
Here is a prayer at the foot of my head,
a hundred years unturned.
i am Joe or Mick at the mouth
of my own nameless grave,
am flesh and bones for the blasting sun
to burn them all and their silence too
deeper and deeper,
for all those dead eyes in a dying town
to skin this wind with skeletons.

Mother, this listening!
Like a flock of orphans forging a storm.

At the edge of my grave,
at this corner of the world,
my heart unglues its hunger
in crutches and splinters,
this starving heart,
in another nameless war.
The years, the fucking years,
fall away
like light shaved from the landscape.
i have been here before
in our coming without name,
our exile with nothing left behind.
i return again, with this childlike being,
endlessly travelling
like a man beaten in his tracks
by words and language and the lash
of a shuttered window, a ship in port sighing,
and the squealing of pigs:
all the lord's sunshine in corn and
an English law, an English landlord
in some lost place between
fire and sword.

So much like eyes in this black nameless rock.
So much rotting in its ribcages
to fatten the rich!
Only this dead bird in the freezing dark
shapes my journey to an inch of its

Heart, too big that it bulges with these
lies of wood and world and word.

Heart, so small i can hear the stones
still singing here.

Heart deeper in its unvoiced coming
like Christ, another saviour
unmasked among the shadows.

It is all loss and nothing will return them.
Wind whispers its ungodly sound through
the empty rooms of my life.
These bony men, these wretched men,
these women and children
march, march, marching!
We are all journeying into a burning sun,
a sinking world,
into a howling bigger than all
these silent voices.
i join in my returning, a different child,
not man, an elbow
at each treeless corner, to  hold
this world apart,
for all these graves and their rotting dead,
my head and chest and bones and all,
at twilight,
like a small boy breaking in these arms.
That here God's a broken heart, an emptiness
to call our own
no bigger than these broken worlds
like earth collapsing.

Then see, on the horizon, how it comes,
hunger hunger hunger!
Only heartbreak,

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