“Idle as trout in light Colonel Jones
these Irish, give them no coins at all; their bones
need toil, their characters no less.” Trevelyan’s
seal blooded the deal table. The Relief
Committee deliberated: “Might it be safe,
Colonel, to give them roads, roads to force
From nowhere, going nowhere of course?”
one out of every ten and then
another third of those again
women – in a case like yours.
Sick, directionless they worked. Fork, stick
were iron years away; after all could
they not blood their knuckles on rock, suck
April hailstones for water and for food?
Why for that, cunning as housewives, each eyed –
as if at a corner butcher – the other’s buttock.
anything may have caused it, spores
a childhood accident; one sees
day after day these mysteries.
Dusk: they will work tomorrow without him.
They know it and walk clear. He has become
a typhoid pariah, his blood tainted, although
he shares it with some there. No more than snow
attends its own flakes where they settle
and melt, will they pray by his death rattle.
You never will, never you know
but take it well woman, grow
your garden, keep house, good-bye.
“It has gone better than we expected, Lord
Trevelyan, sedition, idleness, cured
in one. From parish to parish, field to field;
the wretches work till they are quite worn,
then fester by their work. We march the corn
to the ships in peace. This Tuesday I saw bones
out of my carriage window. Your servant Jones.”
Barren, never to know the load
of his child in you, what is your body
now if not a famine road?
– Eavan Boland