ROOTS

Submitted by AWL on 25 July, 2008 - 6:14 Author: Sean Matgamna

Cockney in voice, English by birth
And domicile, he hears, one apart,
The teacher's cool, cold dissertation,
Recalling Erin's Great Starvation
Matters of fact, no call to fret,
(The telly shows you worse than that).
"Hunger in England, in forty-five"
A young lad says, "They had to grieve
For we came first'; Got some relief"
Teacher replies: "Meal, not beef
(The export trade ate that)" "And were
They grateful? No, I'll bet! Eh, sir?"
Alone, suddenly under threat,
The anger tightening in his throat,
He hears, knowing our Famine tale,
With stomach tense, breath quick, face pale;
His hurt grey eyes are raw nerve ends
Extending back and down, wound
Root-tight to starved and murdered folk,
Beyond sea, years, past callow talk;
Tied by our memory to those who died:
"That's me you're talking of!" he cried.
1995

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