Finalist: Assumed Responsibilities

Assumed Responsibilities

A woman stands by the wayside
observing.
She is invisible, an unseen watcher.
The air chokes with the heavy smoke
of burning homes.
Walls of stone line the trodden ground,
graves made from men’s bones.
Doors are cracked open
for people with nowhere to go.
She feels the hunger feasting,
while death walks hand in hand
with her people.
She watches the dribble of humanity
ceaselessly leaving their homes
for the rosy allure from across the sea.
From east to west,
From north to south
She watches.

A woman stands by the wayside
observing.
The air trembles with unrest,
tinged with resentment.
Gentled men preach political freedom
but she knows they don’t understand
their crowd.
(They only want freedom from the biting hunger.)
While shots deafen even the birds
and vaults for the living collapse
and men shout ‘done in the name of Ireland and her people!’,
She feels the anger simmering.
This is not their revolution.
She watches two different wars, harming all her people.
From east to west
From north to south
She watches.

The woman stands by the wayside
observing.
The air is ripe with joy,
a joy long overdue.
This time the speakers listen to their crowd
and yes, yes, yes becomes the anthem for a day.
The hunger for justice is whetted
as her people decide as one.
She feels shots of hope pierce the air
radiating outwards, sunbeams against
a stage of colour.
She watches as her people choose their own way.
From east to west
From north to south
She watches.

The woman stands by the wayside
observing.
She is still invisible, the unseen watcher.
The air ripples with the uncertainty
But she no longer watches her people.
They are not the ones who need her.
Her eyes are cast to figures miles away,
leaving their homes for the rosy allure of tales from across the sea.
She feels their terror, a cruel terror
as shores become graveyards.
She watches as barbed wire replaces welcome mats
and doors are slammed.
but she knows her people, once those same figures miles away,
will fight for the cause:
the 2016 Rising.

 

Una Faller
Athlone Community College, Westmeath