It’s a short piece of road full of pictures.
I can’t travel it without recalling the masterly strokes of the school
on my boyhood imagination.
The road winds its way from the village to the rock
where the holy year cross awaits its annual lighting.
The school where I introduced white chalk to black slate
and they were introduced to me
lies on its edge, overlooking what the master called “sleepy valley”.
Fancy stone work opposite marks a spot of bleak recollections.
A famine grave on the edge of the old graveyard.
Hearts wanted the place to be marked.
Yet no names are recalled or written.
Acknowledgement and anonymity
vie with each other for appropriateness.
Most of the old graveyard is overgrown
with luscious grass and weeds which even on a summer’s day
wet the shoes of the one who plods through it.
But the engraved picture chiseled in my mind is of fragile frames
of famined neighbours dying outside its ditches
with grass in their mouths.
Their last faint pumping of the heart
toward a place of hope-filled Christian burial.
The fear of death’s sting would be laid out
to be soothed by heaven’s shroud.